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Camelback Falls: A David Mapstone Mystery Hardcover – January 6, 2003

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (January 6, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312304048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312304041
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,762,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this clever plot-twister, a bizarre series of actions transforms Deputy David Mapstone, who debuted in Concrete Desert (2001), from mild-mannered historian of the Sheriff's Department of Maricopa County (Ariz.) into acting sheriff. Mapstone, who has returned to law enforcement after a 15-year academic detour, is only inches away when someone shoots his friend and mentor, Mike Peralta, at the reception following Peralta's swearing in as county sheriff. While Peralta lies in a coma, Mapstone takes over a department where he can rely on virtually no one except girlfriend Lindsey Adams, also a sheriff's deputy. An obscure reference to Camelback Falls and a chain of deadly events set Mapstone digging into a 20-year-old case he and Peralta had been involved in. Talton handles the difficult task of having his hero play simultaneous roles of acting sheriff and lone wolf without losing credibility. The Arizona setting (from the 1970s to the present) is faultless. Mapstone is dogged, though certainly not fearless, as he follows a long trail of drugs, sex and murder even as it threatens to expose those closest to him. Reflective and laid-back, Mapstone can play both departmental insider and outsider. His dual training as historian and law officer enables him to bring a fresh approach to the cases he tackles. Talton has mined another gem from the Southwest's trove of memorable sheriffs.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The day Mike Peralta is sworn in as the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, a sniper's bullet drops him at death's door. David Mapstone is named acting sheriff. Twenty years earlier, Mapstone had been Peralta's partner as a rookie, but has been back on the force only a few years, having failed as an academician in the politicized world of higher learning. Along with his lover, computer analyst Deputy Lindsey Adams, Mapstone organizes an investigation that centers on convict Leo O'Keefe, who took the fall for a double cop killing 20 years earlier. Pressure mounts to dump the Peralta shooting on O'Keefe, but Mapstone finds an old ledger that implicates Peralta, along with a half-dozen other deputies, in a drug shakedown. Mapstone intends to find Peralta's assailant while clearing his name. Faced with hostility from within the department and murder attempts from outside, Mapstone and Adams generate more heat than the bad guys expected from a former history professor and a computer geek. A worthy successor to Talton's critically acclaimed debut, Concrete Desert (2001). Wes Lukowsky
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Jon Talton is the author of ten novels, including the David Mapstone mysteries and the Cincinnati Casebooks.

His latest book is the mystery, The Night Detectives. In a starred review, Booklist wrote that the novel, "features tight prose and plotting and a pair of complex and fallible protagonists whose character development continues in a series that just keeps getting better."

Jon's award-winning work has been widely praised by the critics. The Washington Post BookWorld called Concrete Desert "More intelligent and rewarding than most contemporary mysteries." In a starred review, Booklist called it "a stunning debut." The Chicago Tribune lauded Camelback Falls for its "twisty and crafty" plot. For Dry Heat, Publishers Weekly wrote, "Taut prose helps tighten the screws, and the winning, sensitive portrayal of the Mapstones -- both of them a relief after too many hard-nosed PIs who are all gristle and no brain -- lends credibility to the noirish narrative."

Jon is also a veteran journalist and blogger. He is the economics columnist of the Seattle Times and is editor and publisher of the blog Rogue Columnist. Prior to that, he was a business and op-ed columnist for the Arizona Republic. He also worked for newspapers in San Diego, Denver, Dayton, Cincinnati and Charlotte.

Before journalism, he worked for four years as an ambulance medic in the inner city of Phoenix. He also was an instructor in theater at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Jon is a fourth-generation Arizonan now living in Seattle.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Theodore A. Rushton on January 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a good book.
Before going further, it is worth noting that Phoenix and Arizona have some of the highest crime rates in the nation. That's not what the Chamber of Commerce, tourism bureau and local newspaper will admit, but it's true. Do as I did, look at the FBI Uniform Crime Reports. I did after moving here in 1972, and often since then; the figures are consistent, this is one of the most crime plagued areas in the nation.
Talton writes a compelling story about crime in the Phoenix area, with a fictional sheriff as his hero. The real sheriff is a clown, courting constant publicity by forming chain gangs for prisoners, serving rotten food (he's proud of his green bologna), dressing inmates in pink underwear, narrowly evading imaginary plots on his life, housing inmates in tents in 120-degree weather, and costing the county millions of dollars in lawsuits filed in response to brutality by his deputies.
The sheriff's predecessors include a man who'd been married 10 or so times, and another who was formerly a lawnmower repairman. They weren't as "tough" as the current sheriff.
Although his central plot is fictional, Talton larded it with real incidents in the Phoenix area. When he cites to Mesa officers using their shift breaks to have sex with each other, such sex games really happened. When he writes about the local newspaper by saying one of it's stories "got things about half right" - - - it flatters his current bosses, since he can't afford to lose his day job yet.
Yet, based on my personal experience as a reporter covering trials and in the governor's office, Talton paints a devastatingly accurate picture of police corruption, indifference, arrogance and bullying. Time and again, his examples are based on actual events.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By scifiguy57 on May 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I was disappointed by Talton's first novel, _Concrete Desert_, but I am pleased to see that this one is a big improvement. Somewhat implausibly, the narrator goes overnight from being the universally ridiculed historian of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department to its acting head. He quickly finds himself in the middle of a case of corruption, porn and murder, and doesn't know who he can trust. The action moves along briskly and the sense of paranoia increases as more and more attempts are made on the narrator's life. The descriptions of Phoenix, especially the contrast between the Chamber-of-commerce image and the sleazy underbelly, are spot on.
Talton still has trouble creating believable characters. Lindsey in particular seems more like a pin-up poster on some teenage boy's bedroom wall than a real human being. Also the ending was annoyingly formulaic, reminiscent of those James Bond movies where the bad guy has to explain everything before killing Bond.
On the whole however, this is an entertaining read if you have to spend a few hours sitting on a plane. Phoenix provides so much material for detective thrillers - greedy land speculators, hypocritical politicians, ultra-extremist gun nuts and survivalists, you name it - I hope Talton will continue to mine this vein.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on January 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
When he was twenty-three, David Mapstone was a rookie working in the Maricopa County Sheriff's office while attending college at night. After four years on the force, he accepts a position of assistant professor at a midwestern college but when he fails to attain tenure he returns to Arizona. He accepts a job with the sheriff's office as a Historian, receiving a set fee for each cold case he solved.
Nobody could be happier than David is when his old partner Mike Peralta is elected sheriff of Maricopa County. However, minutes after Peralta is sworn in, someone shoots the new sheriff who is rushed to the hospital where he lays in a coma. David is selected as acting sheriff because he has no interest in the position permanently. His immediate concern is the murder of former sheriff Dick Nixon who many claim was dirty, and an escaped con probably gunning for David and Peralta. When evidence surfaces that officers, including Peralta, were on the take in the 1970's, David, trusting in the honesty of his friend, concludes that somebody is manipulating events. David investigates the situation, trying to flush the killer out but almost winds up another victim.
Jon Talton is a superb storyteller who is a fresh new voice in police procedurals. His hero is likable and realistic, a person not interested in petty politics or getting ahead professionally. He's more involved in the past than the present but in CAMELBACK FALLS he is forced to work on a current crime because of his friendship. Mr. Talton writes with a discerning eye and a subtle sense of irony that readers will appreciate.
Harriet Klausner
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Allyson Jones on January 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Talton has created a truly intelligent and different detective. Moody settings, smart plot twists, and a romatic interest worthy of the hero. This is the second book with Talton's character, Mapstone, and it's a truly accomplished follow-up to a great debut novel!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Fink on September 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Talton's second published mystery continues the adventures of failed history professor and erstwhile sheriff's deputy David Mapstone as he climbs the professional ladder to greater responsibility and greater danger. The improbable juxtaposition of academic and law enforcement sensibilities gives Mapstone a somewhat unpredictable and self-deprecating personality (much like the author's) that keeps the narrative fresh and appealing. The story is more violent and racy than its predecessor ("Concrete Desert"), but it continues Talton's signature exploration of the 1950s and 60s history of the town destined to become the nation's fifth largest city. The plot moves along quickly to the inevitable but satisfying conclusion. Talton manages to deftly slip in many editorial comments about the rapid urbanization of Phoenix today, and he also conveys how the current version of the city still preserves some of its earlier close-knit, gossipy feel. Readers not familiar with urban Arizona may find the book's cultural and physical landscapes to be strangely exotic. Those who have visited or lived in the desert southwest will quickly recognize the real landmarks sprinkled through the fabric of the book. It's apparent that Talton is aiming for Tony Hillerman's audience. While he hasn't yet gotten to that level of notoriety, anyone who has enjoyed reading about Hillerman's detectives Joe Leaphorn and Jimmy Chee should immediately order one or both of Talton's books.
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