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The Bomb Shelter, the ninth David Mapstone Mystery


Forty years ago, a Phoenix reporter was killed by a car bomb in one of America’s most notorious crimes. Three men went to prison but was the assassination ever really solved? Did the kingpin who ordered the hit get away with it? It’s a case custom-made for David Mapstone, the historian-turned-sheriff’s deputy. But the past never rests easy in Arizona and when Mapstone’s boss, Sheriff Mike Peralta, promises to reopen the investigation, new murders commence.

The crimes are reenactments of Phoenix’s mob-riddled past, where gangsters rubbed elbows with the city’s elite amid crosscurrents of corrupt cops, political payoffs, gambling, prostitution, and murder cloaked by the sunshine of a resort city. But who is committing them now? A former soldier who is an explosives expert and deadly with a knife? A woman with screen-siren looks and extraordinary computer skills? Or someone out of Phoenix’s seamy, swinging 1970s with secrets to keep?

Mapstone will need all the help he can get. He enlists a Ph.D. candidate and Black Lives Matter activist to help him comb through secret archives of the original bombing. Mapstone's wife Lindsey, a top hacker, rejoins the Sheriff’s Office and plays a dangerous cat-and-mouse game — one that goes from the digital to the real and risky world. In the house of mirrors from the 1970s killing, they must find the key that connects the past to the present.

In this swiftly-paced, compelling novel, a big city is trying to keep its darkest history off limits.



Through Mapstone’s wryly witty first-person narrative, Talton expresses his genuine love of Phoenix as it once was, as well as his exasperated but tolerant attachment to the city as it is today. Clear writing, an intricate plot, and credible characters make this entry a winner.

— Publishers Weekly​


 "Mapstone is hampered by records still under seal but is helped by his hacker wife, Lindsey, and PhD candidate Malik Jones as he pursues the case more as cop than historian. Talton celebrates investigative reporting and deplores the real-estate development that has damaged Phoenix as he delves into the dirty past and politics of the city. The ninth entry in a justly praised series."

— Booklist


"Deeply satisfying.... Ex-professor Mapstone is an excellent guide to local history and lore. Through him, Talton provides a wealth of engrossing detail about Phoenix then and now, especially its unsavory past."

​— Adam Woog, The Seattle Times


Interview with Steve Goldstein on KJZZ about The Bomb Shelter (listen).


Page One article in the Arizona Republic about The Bomb Shelter and the real-life crime that inspired it.​

Crimespree Magazine interviews me about The Bomb Shelter.

Calendar:





A Brief History of Phoenix:


An interpretive history of Phoenix from its founding in 1868 through the present. Published by the History Press, it's also full of historic photos of the city through the years.


"This is a coherent and valuable assessment of our past, useful and accessible and deeply informative. More important, A Brief History of Phoenix offers an entertaining read, even for readers with only a passing interest in our desert city." — Robrt Pela in Phoenix New Times


Watch:


My appearance on KAET's Horizon.


My March 6th talk at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore.


High Country Nocturne Reviews:


Booklist starred review:


Phoenix private investigator David Mapstone is a former county sheriff. He gets a desperate late-night call from Sharon Peralta, wife of Mike, Mapstone’s partner. Mike has been accused of being the principal in a Phoenix diamond robbery and has disappeared. The FBI has his truck and wants to find out if either David or Sharon knows where Mike is and if they were accomplices. On the way to meet law enforcement, David is pulled over for speeding. In a truly harrowing scene the young female “officer” who pulls him over apparently intends to kill him until she’s scared off by unexpected traffic. It’s in that context David and Sharon are interrogated by the FBI. The message is unequivocal: they better deliver Mike on a platter. This is a complex, multifaceted thriller in which Phoenix itself is a principal player, with its depressed economy, residual Wild West mindset, casinos, mobsters, and corrupt infrastructure all key aspects of its character. Most of what Mapstone believes is at stake. Did he misjudge Mike Peralta? Is Arizona unrelentingly corrupt? What did he do to unleash a killer into his life and endanger his loved ones. Talton, a longtime journalist and native Arizonan, writes in a spare, beautiful style that parallels the stark beauty of his home’s high country. This is a nail-biting thriller pushed to the next level of excellence by the moral quandaries that drive the plot. The high point of an outstanding series.
— Wes Lukowsky


Library Journal starred review:


As with Bill Crider’s and Kevin McGarrity’s mysteries, Talton’s books are studies in atmosphere and setting. Arizona’s wild and beautiful landscape figures prominently, and the interior examination of Mapstone’s hopes and fears makes this a terrific character study as well.


Publishers Weekly:


...Intricately plotted.... Talton keeps the reader guessing throughout, but Mapstone's learned, insightful first-person commentary is what really stands out; his comments about the decline of the Phoenix he's always called home are particularly revealing and believable.


The Seattle Times:


Talton expertly contrasts his swift and closely plotted story against a deep, melancholy theme: the grave injustice done by modernization to his beloved Phoenix. The book is rich in period and contemporary details, as well as fascinating nuggets from the region’s earlier history.

As a result, “High Country Nocturne” is both an absorbing detective story and a vividly written elegy to a day when, as Mapstone puts it, people read books other than “Harry Potter” — and when the writer’s hometown was not the soulless sprawl it is today.

— Adam Woog


Feathered Quill:


A fast-paced mystery told in the first person by our protagonist, David Mapstone. This book is number eight in the author’s series about David Mapstone and it doesn't disappoint.


The Bellingham (WA) Herald:


There was much to enjoy in Talton's beautifully written literary lamentations for Phoenix the way it used to be. This is where the writer really shines, recreating for us in word pictures a saner pace of life, a more gracious architecture, and a more expansive landscape. It may be a different corner of the country, but the native Southwesterner captures the helplessness we native Northwesterners often feel about the desecration of the landscape and the thoughtless development we've witnessed right here.


Writeknit:


This fast paced mystery is intricately woven to end up with a completely surprising, yet deliciously satisfying end.


The Midwest Book Review:


Depicting the atmosphere and culture of Arizona, High Country Nocturne provides the kind of tense mystery that should delight genre readers with a special affinity for Western settings and intrigue.