“The Territory” (Minotaur Books, $14.99, paperback) is Tricia Fields' debut novel and the first in her mystery series featuring Josie Gray, chief of police in Artemis, Texas.
A drug war between the Medrano and La Bestia cartels holds the small town of Artemis hostage. Gray is caught in a shoot-out between the rival drug cartels and is attempting to protect one gang from the other.
She becomes a target when she kills one gang member and puts another in prison.
Then there is Second Amendment advocate Red Goff, who is found shot and killed in a trailer near his home. He was the head of a local group of right-wing gun enthusiasts called the Gunners.
Now his large cache of weapons has gone missing.
Set in the beautiful but dangerous desert, the book captures current border issues from the viewpoint of a small town's law enforcement officer.
It emphasizes the problems and brutality that the drug cartels bring to small U.S. communities along the border.
The Tony Hillerman Prize honors the best first mystery set in the Southwest. In 2010, that award went to “The Territory.” The second installment in the series, “Scratchgravel Road” (Minotaur Books, $24.99) is now available in hardcover.
— Betty Lytle