Saturday, June 9, 2018

Complete: "The Bomb Shelter" by Jon Talton

Complete: The Bomb Shelter by Jon Talton, 2018, 9781464209574.

CrimeSpree Magazine did a blurb on this. The 9th book in the David Mapstone series and the first one I've read. I recall the first novel Concrete Desert. I was living in AZ when that first one came out and I think Talton and the book received a decent amount of local press.

Talton sets this entirely in Phoenix and bases the story off a modern investigation of the 1976 murder of Phoenix journalist Don Bolles who was murdered by a car bomb. Talton fictionalizes the hell out of the event and writes a neat story.

David Mapstone is a Deputy Sheriff for Maricopa County. Mapstone has had a varied but not quite peripatetic career. He's been a Deputy Sheriff, a student, a history professor, a private investigator and now he is a Deputy again. Mapstone's longtime friend and work partner Mike Peralta is now the Sheriff and hired Peralta on as the Historian. Historian means, "You'll work the cold cases, buddy."

A few days after the 40th anniversary of the reporter Sheriff  Peralta comes into Mapstone's office and says, "You've got a couple weeks to go through several boxes of files and see if you can find anything new." To incentivize the search is a threatening text to Peralta to stay out of an investigation. Next comes another bombing murder witnessed by Mapstone and threats that more murders are forthcoming if Peralta comes up empty handed.

The bad guys are mean and murdery and Mapstone has to investigate the 40-year-old case, find the current bombers, worry off his wife who is still recovery from a gunshot, deal with a tempestuous Sheriff, and not leak out word that the old case is being investigated.

Talton really uses the Phoenix setting. He covers old mob killings, land fraud rackets, political corruption, sexual shenanigans, so on, so forth. He writes up the changing landscape of concrete and housing estates, freeways, water issues, Phoenix and as the place of B-list and retired celebrities, and global warming heatwaves. Neat stuff.

There is plenty of long lasting relationships in the novel and Talton has Mapstone frequently recalling, reminiscing and regretting a few of those. Talton never leaves us out to dry on those things; the reader doesn't need to read the previous novels to know what the hell is going on.

1. Gratuitous Phoenix and Valley of the Sun geography love.
2. Mapstone is assisted by a history doctoral student. The student and Mapstone have these unrealistic conversations on social justice, being "woke", racism, sexual identity, etc. I least I thought the conversations were unrealistic and silly. Maybe Talton has been button holed by guys who talk that way.
3. The previous Sheriff carried on Arpaio-style antics. Arpaio is such a freaking opportunistic, power loving dirtbag.
4. Sheriff Dan Rhodes style of maudlin thoughts about modern change. Old neighborhoods going away.  Sprawl and concrete. Changing social behavior and mores. Change marching on and Mapstone isn't too happy about it.
5. I enjoyed hiking up Camelback on the times I was able to drive over there. I would be sucking wind and the super fit people would be running up the damn trails.

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