Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Shattered Dreams by Frank Hayes

First Line: The early morning sun was just high enough to make him squint.
 
Although the burnt out shell of a trailer and the charred body inside show all the signs of a meth lab gone wrong, Sheriff Virgil Dalton sees enough evidence there to tell him that there was foul play. Then another fatality that's supposedly an accidental death tells Dalton that there's a sinister pattern beginning to emerge. 
 
Could that pattern have anything to do with a local company whose rapid growth is changing the face of the land he loves? Maybe. Maybe not. But it does show that there's a killer on the loose who will stop at nothing to cover his tracks. Sheriff Virgil Dalton has a lot of work to do and only a very little time in which to get it done.
 
~
 
In my opinion, Sheriff Virgil Dalton ranks right up there with others in my Sheriffs Pantheon. What others? Try Walt Longmire and Joanna Brady for starters. I just wish there were more than three books in this series because the message these books convey is much greater than the sum of their parts.
 
There's a slow, steady unfolding of the mystery in Shattered Dreams, but the mystery is just the tip of the iceberg. We experience the age-old problem of fighting a city council that wants the sheriff's department to perform miracles on a broken shoestring budget-- a city council that took ten years to decide to spend money to install a stop light at a dangerous intersection. Times are changing, and the problems of the world are coming to this small town where that old yellow dog used to be able to sleep out in the middle of Main Street. No matter how much the city council wants to live in the past, they must be dragged into the here and now.

What makes Shattered Dreams and the other two books in the series (Death at the Black Bull and Death on the High Lonesome) so good is what I call the People Angle. The characters draw you in and keep you wanting more. Rosie, the dispatcher who keeps the office shipshape and everyone in line, puts me in mind of Walt Longmire's Ruby. Something happens to another character, and readers will be left reeling in shock but ultimately comforted by how everyone draws together.

Sheriff Virgil Dalton is the type of lawman readers can respect and grow to love. He's quiet and observant. He sees value in the sorts of people that most folks write off, people whom others believe are only fit to gossip about. He's always putting everyone else ahead of himself, sometimes to his own detriment. And, like Sheriff Joanna Brady over in Cochise County, Arizona, he knows that his "job is about way more than just catching bad people; it's about helping good people, too, and about putting broken lives back together."  
 
Even more than the solution of the mystery, it's how Frank Hayes, in often evocative and poetic language, has created a world and characters who, despite it all, focuses on the good that means the most to me. When I read a Virgil Dalton mystery, I am in Hayes' world. Want to know how deep? Shattered Dreams made me forget that I was stranded in a lonely hospital room, that's how deep. And this will keep me coming back time after time after time. I long for more books in this series, and I sincerely hope that this is one wish that comes true.
 
Shattered Dreams by Frank Hayes
eISBN: 9781950461004
Beyond the Page Publishing © 2019
eBook, 190 pages
 
Police Procedural, #3 Sheriff Virgil Dalton mystery
Rating: A+
Source: Purchased from Amazon.

12 comments:

  1. Wow, an A+, good enough for your best books of 2021 list.
    And to me, the best compliment you could give is that the book so pulled you into the characters' lives and the plot that you forgot you were alone in a hospital room. Now any book that can do that is special.

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    1. I should've mentioned that uncomfortable bed, too. Didn't think about it either.

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  2. The setting for this series is what really appeals to me, Cathy. That backdrop is such a great choice for the characters and the story itself. Little wonder this is one of your top sheriff series. By the way, I agree about Joanna Brady - another excellent series.

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  3. I think I would like Sheriff Virgil Dalton. I really appreciate those who deal with the things in life that I don't want to deal with and are able to see the good in spite of it.

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  4. FYI: Don't know if you saw Barbara and Hank Philippi Ryan interviewing Lisa Scottoline just done in the last few days. It was son full of life and lively and emotional about Italy, and, unfortunately, the Holocaust there. She was promoting her new book, Eternal.

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    1. Hasn't made it to Youtube yet so I can watch it on the big screen.

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  5. Making a note of this one. Thanks for the review.

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  6. When I have had bad health problems, such as allergies and other unpleasantries, reading a good work of fiction, especially a mystery, is the best distraction method.

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