Sometimes routine wasn’t always routine as Sheriff JD Pickens, and his deputies learned. What was supposed to be a routine 911 call ended up costing Pickens a deputy and turned out to be a double homicide. One that was outside the realm of humanity. Pickens was forced to divide his team and call for help from two retired homicide detectives. Not since a psychopath went on the warpath with a shotgun had there been such bloodshed in the county leaving scars that would last a long time.
At the start of Encizo’s taut third mystery featuring Florida sheriff J.D. Pickens (after 2019’s Murder on Grange Road), one of Pickens’s newest deputies, Jason Conlon, stops a speeding car with a suspicious license plate. The driver shoots Conlon, who sustains only minor wounds, then takes off. The attack proves to be the first of multiple shootings of law-enforcement officers, including Pickens himself, some of which prove fatal. Two weeks after the first incident, Conlon is shot from a moving vehicle outside the house where he and his partner are responding to a domestic disturbance call. This time Conlon doesn’t survive. The case gets weirder after Pickens checks out the house the call concerned, and finds the occupants, Edward and Paula Buxton, dead from knife and gunshot wounds. Given that the Buxtons died a while before the police arrived at the scene, Pickens must sort out whether the murders are related. Encizo combines superior storytelling with characters who invite sympathy. Fans of gritty procedurals will hope Pickens will be back soon. (Self-published)