cover image The Replacement Child

The Replacement Child

Christine Barber, . . St. Martin's Minotaur/Dunne, $23.95 (271pp) ISBN 978-0-312-38554-5

Billed as the first winner of the Tony Hillerman Prize for best debut mystery set in the Southwest, Barber's first novel is full of exquisite New Mexico scenery, but it's not enough to buoy a routine plot. Santa Fe newspaper editor Lucy Newroe usually ignores the calls from an old woman known as Scanner Lady with police scanner tidbits, but soon after Scanner Lady tells Lucy she overheard two cops discussing a dead body, Melissa Baca is found dead in a gorge outside the city. Det. Sgt. Gil Montoya strives to reconcile conflicting statements about Melissa's family and alleged drug use. Responding to an emergency call, Lucy, who also volunteers as a medic, finds the body of an elderly woman near a police scanner and fears her source has been murdered. Reluctantly joining forces, Lucy and Gil discover that the links between the two murders run deeper than they imagined. Like Lucy, Barber is a journalist and volunteer EMT; hopefully, she'll use this background to flesh out her heroine in a sequel. (Oct.)