The question is not only why someone killed a man crossing the Old Town plaza toward Hubie’s shop, but who the man was. And why he wanted to see Hubie.
Like all Pot Thief mysteries, this one takes the reader on entertaining detours which turn out to be part of the plot. Unconventional though it is, the book is well-paced. (There are a few genuine digressions, but they aren’t dull. I can’t object to Hubie reciting a list of New Mexico mystery writers in order to prove his extraordinary memory.) The trips to Silver City and to Tucumcari are educational as well as revealing. The Albuquerque settings and many of the characters are familiar, of course, to series fans. I especially enjoy Hubie’s conversations with his friend Susannah. She disagrees with him more than others close to him do, which makes for lively reading, especially when they’re trying to solve a crime. Many amusing scenes satirize academia. There are also moving, touching moments such as Freddy’s return to freedom. No spoilers. It’s an extraordinary moment. And the solution to the mystery is also emotionally profound.
I was glad to see Hubie commit a little breaking and entering toward the end. I was afraid he’d given up on that sort of thing. He thieves no pots in this book, an activity which I miss, but he does steal something of great personal value to himself. And to solving the mystery. And after all her years of reading mysteries and roping calves, Susannah contributes heroically as well.