Sunshine Vicram has just returned to the New Mexico town of Del Sol where she grew up, after being elected sheriff in a race she wasn’t even aware she’d entered. Her parents, Curtis and Elaine Freyr, were convinced she’d be the best person for the job and “managed” her entire campaign, the animosity of the prior sheriff and the town mayor notwithstanding. So Sunshine moves back with her teenage daughter Auri, and quickly finds herself involved in all the weirdness of her home town. Luckily, she has her best friend since childhood, Deputy Quincy Cooper, to help her get into the swing of things.
But not even a supportive local network can brace her for the disappearance of a local teen, one who’d made friends with Auri before vanishing into thin air. Sybil St Aubin had had premonitions of her own abduction and murder on her fifteenth birthday, premonitions no one had taken seriously until now. When the investigations into Sybil’s disappearance turn up leads on the traumatic series of events that had originally caused Sunshine herself to flee town over a decade earlier, things start to get pretty sticky for our new sheriff.
There were so many twists and turns as Darynda Jones expertly weaves in a myriad of subplots, setting up for a really interesting series to come. Never fear, tho, the main story is more than amply completed — a pet peeve of mine is when mystery series don’t resolve their main vs overarching series plots per book, a pitfall this novel deftly avoids. I did figure out whodunnit when Ms Jones dropped two ginormous clues, and I have a fairly good idea where she’s going with Levi Ravinder’s involvement in Sunshine’s abduction as a teenager, but I’m very interested in finding out if I’m as right about the latter as I was the former. I also enjoyed the fact that this series debut, written from the alternating viewpoints of Sunshine and Auri — who share a delightfully sassy familial attitude to life while sounding like their own distinct personalities — feels like equal parts Brooklyn 99 and Veronica Mars: good snarky fun.
That said, I could have done with less of people “laughing softly” all the time, and the phrase “making X great again” — no matter how ironically used — will always sound like a racist dog whistle to me. Also, how did all these gori wind up having Indian last names?! Perhaps that’s a question that will be answered in future installments, which I’m definitely looking forward to reading!