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Things are bad for historian-turned-deputy David Mapstone. His marriage is in shambles—after a personal calamity, his wife, Lindsey, has taken a trial job in Washington, D.C.—and he’s just turned in his badge and is left working cold cases after his oldest friend and boss, Maricopa, Arizona, County Sheriff Mike Peralta, loses a bid for reelection. And things get worse. Mapstone’s sister-in-law Robin, who is living in his home, gets a package containing the severed head of her lover, visiting professor Jax Delgado, whose tortured body indicates that he’s actually a legendary hit man for a Mexican cartel. So Mapstone, who knows the rules of south Phoenix, a poor and long-neglected area that is becoming increasingly dangerous, tries to protect Robin and himself while ferreting out answers. Talton has created a richly complex character in Mapstone, who struggles with adversity and resists taking revenge, however sweet it would be. As for Talton’s stark vision of a soulless Phoenix, well, it’s not a place you’d even want to visit. A well-crafted, nuanced series. --Michele Leber
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