cover image Accustomed to the Dark: A Joshua Croft Mystery

Accustomed to the Dark: A Joshua Croft Mystery

Walter Satterthwait. St. Martin's Press, $21.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-312-14535-4

Satterthwait grips his readers early, hard and fast as New Mexico PI Joshua Croft (seen before in The Hanged Man) pursues the man who shot his partner and lover, Rita Mondragon. Hours before the shooting, Ernie Martinez had escaped the nearby state penitentiary, where he was serving time for previously shooting Rita and killing her husband years ago, while trying to murder Joshua. Infuriated that police did not warn them, Joshua gives chase on his own while Rita lies comatose in a Santa Fe hospital. The trail is grim. An informant who once turned in Martinez has been shot to death. A troubled bank teller has suddenly abandoned her home to help Martinez and a fellow escapee. Joshua's hasty reaction triggers deadly consequences in Denver, enraging the cops, but a computer nerd there points him toward another lead in Texas. Disbelieving reports that the fleeing felons have died in a fiery road accident near New Orleans, Joshua presses on to south Florida and a bloody showdown. Satterthwait cross-cuts smoothly from present to past, delving in depth into Joshua and Rita's relationship and the origins of the feud with Martinez. Narration and dialogue crackle with smart humor. Joshua gets strong support, especially from a monosyllabic ex-CIA agent who collects Barbie dolls and prowls the Everglades like an alligator, silent and dangerous. (Nov.)