cover image When the Devil Doesn’t Show

When the Devil Doesn’t Show

Christine Barber. Minotaur, $24.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-250-00472-7

Christmas in festive, farolito-filled Santa Fe, N.Mex., provides the backdrop for Hillerman Prize–winner Barber’s solid third mystery featuring newspaper editor and volunteer EMT Lucy Newroe (after 2010’s The Bone Fire). While battling a blaze on the outskirts of the city, Lucy is among the firefighters who make a grisly discovery—the bodies of three murdered and brutalized men inside the fire damaged house. Within days there’s a second violent home invasion and then a third, and Det. Sgt. Gil Montoya and partner Joe Phillips find themselves under the gun to capture what appear to be a crew of stone-cold spree killers before they can strike again. As usual, Barber weaves numerous plot elements and multicultural strands of Santa Fe society into an intriguingly complex tapestry. But this time she spreads her attention among so many characters—shortchanging, among others, two who will figure most prominently in the surprising denouement—that her story doesn’t satisfy as much as it should. (Apr.)