Less than a Moment: A Posadas County Mystery

Steven F. Havill. Poisoned Pen, $15.99 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-4926-9909-5

Havill’s rambling 24th mystery set in New Mexico’s Posadas County (after 2018’s Lies Come Easy) provides an update on Miles Waddel’s NightZone, his “astronomical mesa-top development,” complete with a planetarium, futuristic hotel, and five-star restaurant. The project, dedicated to ensuring a light pollution free zone, is now drawing birdwatchers and ecotourists from around the world. It has also attracted the attention of real estate entrepreneur Kyle Thompson, who has bought a large tract of adjoining land. The purchase has Waddel and most of the residents of the county worried, as the addition of new electric lights would destroy NightZone’s raison d’être. When Thompson’s body is found in a pool of blood at the bottom of a cliff, Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman suspects he was murdered. The investigation goes down a bunch of false trails until a sudden, violent resolution. As usual, the main pleasure lies in time spent visiting old friends, like former sheriff Bill Gastner and Estelle’s large circle of family and friends. This isn’t the place to start for newcomers. (Mar.)