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Heartshot (Bill Gastner Mystery #1)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  720 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews

Posadas County, New Mexico, hugging the San Cristobal
mountains separating it from Mexico, has very few mean streets. No city-slick
cop shop either, but an earnest, elected Sheriff and his aging Undersheriff,
William C. Gastner. Pushing sixty, and the girth of his Sam Browne uniform
belt, widower Bill has no other life than in law enforcement and doesn t want
one, even if he s

Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Poisoned Pen Press (first published 1991)
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Feb 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm bumping this up a star because he's a new author for me. It was a solid 3 star book with an interesting hero, a fat old cop who drives himself too hard. Good mystery & motives, neat methods, too. He must have some air time. Made me feel like I was in the cockpit during one memorable event.
Sharon Michael
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Unfortunately for my book budget, this is one of the free downloads that made it to my 'must buy' list after the first book.

The author could have been going down my personal list of 'likes' when he planned this series. Small western town as the setting, sensible representation of modern day county law enforcement and characters and attitudes that fit in this scenario. Main characters are an aging undersheriff and a younger, sensible and bright female deputy, both of whom go about the business of
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1990s, mys-cop, 4-corners
Added a 5th star after recent reread, primarily as lead to series, one that has me enjoying the characters with added pleasure upon visiting with them again. Badger Bill is my favorite cop.
His love for the restaurant, Don Juan ... led me to read an informative history about the last conquistador ...
The Last Conquistador: Juan De Onate and the Settling of the Far Southwest

Do wish Mr Havill would add a county librarian to his cast. There are times in his tales when I'm reminded of county departmen
L.T. Fawkes
Oct 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
FREE **** An Amazon reviewer said about this book that he stopped reading after the first few paragraphs because the narrator/protagonist, Undersheriff Bill Gastner, is old and fat. I'm ashamed to say I nearly had the same reaction, but I kept reading. The reviewer's loss, my gain. I enjoyed this book.

Gastner is the anti-hero's anti-hero. He eats too much of the wrong stuff, he smokes, and he's made no effort to build any kind of life for himself outside of his work. As the book opens, he's afra
Aug 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was such a surprise. Heartshot is the first in a series. When I first saw the cover and read the description I dismissed it as a typical "Western" novel. I love Robert Parker and his Spenser novels and Havill's main character is like a Southwest Spenser. The writing is clean, crisp and well done. Although you as the reader probably know the bad guy by halfway through the novel, Havill does a marvelous job of using that to increase the suspense. I found I couldn't put the book down. Not ...more
Jul 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the second book in the Posadas County Mystery series that I have read, even though it is the first book in the series. It was nice to get some of the back story to the characters that I missed by starting with a later book in the series.

I liked this book a lot. It was a fast read - not because it was light, but because the plot was engaging and made me want to finish the book quickly. The characters are well thought out and complex enough to make them real to the reader. The plot to this
Apr 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. The mystery is interesting although not too hard to figure out (at least I did which is unusual). However the protagonist is wonderful. It's great to see a 60 something man not grouching about the "young whipper-snapper", instead encouraging the young to learn from him. I'll be reading the rest of the stories in this series.
Jul 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Set in New Mexico, the protagonist is a cop in his late 50s who's worried about being forced to retire. Then there is a fatal accident involving 5 teenagers which broadens into a search for drug dealers when cocaine is found in the wrecked vehicle. The ending is thrilling.
Roseann Moss
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Slow start to the book and suddenly you are hooked and can not put it down.
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Good start to a series.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I just read this for the second time. It's great!
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathleen Hagen
Heartshot: an Undersheriff Bill Gastner Mystery No. 1, by Steven Havill, B-plus, borrowed from the Library for the Blind, cassettes. Also available commercially as a download from, produced by Books in Motion.

Bill Gastner is the under-sheriff, that is, the one who does the work while the real sheriff is really only good with administration and politics, for Posadas County, New Mexico. Gastner is presented with a tragic accident which shocks the whole town. A car is totaled and burned
Mar 26, 2012 rated it liked it
He's older, put on some weight, mainly behind the belt buckle, he's a bit crusty. He's the type of guy who walks along, occasionally stubs his toe, yelling loudly, "GOD-DAMN THAT HURTS!", to everyone or no one. He's set in his ways, yet he's not bad at home cooking and he's a widower, .. which explains a lot.

The town, is small, stuck in New Mexico, the cafe food is all right, the parks' got some trees, and a fountain, grass dries out in the summer. Other than that, it's a long way to a museum an
Feb 28, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: crime, series
This is another bookswap book, first in a series from what looks like a small independent press.

Our hero is Undersheriff Bill Garstner, the law in a small part of New Mexico where he's rapidly heading towards retirement - in the middle of the small community where he lives, a car crash that claims the lives of five teenagers becomes an even worse tragedy when drugs are discovered and nobody's name is likely to be kept clean. From there, things go from bad to worse as Bill tries to balance his ow
Heartshot by Steven Havill is the first book of the Bill Gastner series set in Posadas County New Mexico. Although a police procedural, the story is more about the personalities and relationships of an isolated, close-knit community. Bill Gastner is Undersheriff to newly elected sheriff Martin Holman. At first Gastner is concerned that Holman wants him to retire. As Holman, Gastner and Detective Estelle Reyes work together, they come to appreciate and rely on each other's talents and professiona ...more
Nov 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Originally published in 1991.

Bill Gastner is the cantankerous, ornery old Undersheriff of Posadas County. An undersheriff is the person right below the elected position of Sheriff and is appointed by the Sheriff. In the case of fictional Posadas County, the Sheriff is a former used car salesman who is a heck of a businessman but does not know much about law enforcement. So, Bill is literally the old hand that knows his way around the law and the county. Also, he is afraid that the Sheriff might
Douglas Cook
Mar 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mysteries-police
Excellent read about a sheriff facing his age and yet still being successful.

First paragraphs
The sheriff leaned against the doorjamb of my office without saying a word, lounging there until I finally decided to notice him. I grunted what could have been a greeting, and that broke my chain of concentration. I punched the wrong goddamn key, swore, wound the platen up, and began to smear the mess on the paper some more with that miserable white correction fluid that flakes all over everything when
george burns
Sep 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good Start

This is the exciting first entry in what looks to be a promising series. Undersheriff Bill Gastner is pushing seventy, overweight and far from fit. With a newly elected sheriff who has no law enforcement experience, Bill is understandably worried about his future. But first, the small sheriff's department has major problems to deal with. Five teenagers die in a car accident while fleeing from a sheriff's deputy. A stash of cocaine is found in the wreck, but who possessed it? The invest
Dec 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
#1 in the Posadas County mystery series. This 1991 novel is the debut entry in a series of modern westerns that saw #19 in 2013. The series was recommended to me in 2010 when there were 15 novels in the series; I love starting a series with a lengthy backlist. Fictional Posadas County is in rural NM, close to the Mexican border. The initial lead character is undersheriff Bill Gastner, but detective Estelle Reyes is a strong presence. I highly recommend this series, especially to followers of Bil ...more
Aug 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-series
PROTAGONIST: Undersheriff Bill Gastner
SETTING: New Mexico

First in the series.
I borrowed the above format from another reader's review-- seems a good way to start a series review.
I was hooked on this from the first page. The protagonist is great, a set-in-his ways older guy with bad lifestyle habits, the resulting health constraints, but a good work ethic and the professional wisdom of his years. I like to have a hero with heartburn, who has to think twice about scrambling down a hill.
Nov 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cozy, mystery
I really enjoyed this novel, mainly due to the wonderful characterisation of the main character. Undersheriff Bill Gastner.
Bill is aging, paunchy, a smoker and a heart attack waiting to happen. But it is Bill who has the experience when violence and drugs are found in a sleepy little town near the Mexican border. It is Bill who must apprehend the perpetrators. Just goes to show that you can not put a price tag on experience.

I very much enjoyed the relationship between Bill and the young Detectiv
Aug 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
I read a lot of mysteries, and I found this one to be a little different. The main character, Under Sheriff Bill Gastner, is certainly different - a sixty-ish, overweight, small-town law officer. He works for an elected Sheriff, a former car salesman, and has a hard-working young woman as clever subordinate. The small town is different - a New Mexico town of Posados, with a good mix of native American and Mexican American residents. Police procedurals are different, with the audio reader giving ...more
Debbie Heaton
Jul 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
In Havill’s mystery novel, Bill Gastner is an undersheriff in Posadas County, New Mexico. When Ricky Fernandez and four other teens die in an unexplained car crash, Bill’s instincts kick into high gear as he realizes there is more here than meets the eye. Before long a bag of cocaine is discovered and the new sheriff—a very publicity hungry lawman—and an inexperienced undercover cop keep Bill hopping. As the pain of loss filters through the community, vigilantes step up to do the sheriff’s job c ...more
Robert Scott
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Finished 01/23/2013. Posadas County Undersheriff Bill Gastner is on scene after a ghastly car wreck that kills 5 teenagers. Everyone is stunned, but even more so when Deputy Estelle Reyes finds about a kilo of uncut cocaine under the seat of the car. Some of the parents are cooperative, som not, some bitter, some resigned. A high school star athlete is very concern-ed and in the end is murdered because he finds evidence of smuggling in the attempt to assist his killer. A local retired doctor con ...more
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The mystery is easy to follow with no sex scenes or cuss words. No overdose of detail or romance. Sheriff Gastner is likable enough and the New Mexico setting makes me want to visit there all the more. The only part that wasn't quite realistic is when Gastner was in a very intense situation in which he displayed little to no anxiety and acting in a way that most people would be shaking under.

It was really no surprise to discover a particular character's involvement when earlier something fishy
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
These books take Bill Gastner from 'Under-sheriff' to 'Sheriff' to 'Retired sheriff'. This is my favorite series, ever! I've loved all the Bill Gastner books!! Estell ones are good, but Bill became a good friend and I was very sad to tell him good-bye. As a female reader, it's quite refreshing to find a male character who isn't looking for a female relationship. I would appreciate more Bill books!!
I enjoyed this first book in a series, and the first by this author I have read. The setting is a small town in New Mexico, near the Mexican border, and it is the 1980's; drug wars along the border seem to just be starting, and UnderSheriff Bill Gastner gets right in the middle of it. For a quick read, there is good character development, and a good plot. I will plan to read more in this series.
Feb 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
Having read the prequel (published in 2012) to the Bill Gastner series first, I was a little disappointed in this true first entry (1991) in the series, which seemed to suffer a little from first book-itis (especially the overly detailed ending section that read like a training manual for a pilot). I also missed Sheriff Salcido from the prequel. But i still enjoyed this story and the series characters and will continue the series.
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Steven F. Havill is an American author of mysteries and westerns.

Havill lives in Raton, New Mexico, with his wife Kathleen. He has written two series of police procedurals set in the fictional Posadas County, New Mexico; along with other works.

More about Steven F. Havill...

Other Books in the Series

Bill Gastner Mystery (10 books)
  • One Perfect Shot (Bill Gastner Mystery, #.05)
  • Bitter Recoil (Bill Gastner Mystery, #2)
  • Twice Buried (Bill Gastner Mystery, #3)
  • Before She Dies (Bill Gastner Mystery, #4)
  • Privileged to Kill (Bill Gastner Mystery, #5)
  • Prolonged Exposure (Bill Gastner Mystery, #6)
  • Out of Season (Bill Gastner Mystery, #7)
  • Dead Weight (Bill Gastner Mystery, #8)
  • Bag Limit (Bill Gastner Mystery, #9)

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