The “compelling” conclusion of the Southwestern mystery series culminates in a showdown between the Santa Fe PI and the convict who shot the woman he loves (Booklist).
Rita Mondragon is lying comatose and near death in a Santa Fe hospital, and her normally even-tempered partner and paramour, private detective Joshua Croft, is on a razor’s edge. This is the second time Rita’s been shot by Ernie Martinez—the first was years ago when he killed her husband and put Rita in a wheelchair—and now the recently escaped convict is on the run with his equally twisted cellmate Luiz Lucero.
Despite a massive police manhunt, and warnings from the FBI and the DEA to back off, Croft sets out to capture the killers himself. As the crazed convicts leave a trail of murder and destruction behind them—from New Mexico to Las Vegas to Denver and across Kansas and Texas—one by one, their pursuers drop by the wayside. Suddenly a strange twist of fate has left only one man hunter remaining—Joshua Croft—in a breathtaking kill-or-be-killed climax in the Florida Everglades.
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.