The third ‘Johnny Ortiz’ mystery novel is titled, “Death in the Snow.” It was written by Richard Martin Stern (1915-2001). Johnny Ortiz is a police Lieutenant of a small town called ‘Santo Cristo’ in the state of New Mexico. He is a half-breed Apache Indian who is also part Anglo & Spanish American. He has a beautiful girlfriend named Cassie Enright who has a PhD., in Anthropology. She is also of mixed heritage & understands Johnny completely. They spend a lot of time together discussing the homicides in his jurisdiction. Johnny takes long walks seeking out what his friends say are his spiritual ‘visions.’ He is also one of the best ‘trackers’ in the county.
According to publisher of ‘Charles Scribner’s Sons’ the synopsis of “Death in the Snow” is right here - “The story begins with the discovery of a body in the mountains of New Mexico. There is a connection between that murdered man and three deaths by poisoned heroin. There is also a connection with the plan for an elaborate real-estate development threatening the ranchers. Behind it all lies the efficiency and savagery of organized eastern crime and once he sees the pattern - Johnny Ortiz takes a huge risk to settle his most complicated case.”
This has to be my favorite book in this mystery series because of the intrigue involving government corporations, organized crime, murder & drugs. Santo Cristo is a small town & it certainly has its’ petty little crimes. However - the man found dead in the snow brings American corporations west so they can infiltrate the town. What they bring is huge amounts of money & structured drug dealers who handle heroin across three states. These corporations also want to dip into water rights that is very important to residents of New Mexico. Cassie is offered a job by corporate executive because her museum raises money protecting the land plus water rights. Johnny can’t control the organized corporate crime, but he can try to solve the murders that keep coming up connected to the unknown man in the snow. – An excellent book!
- Murder in the Walls (1971)
- You Don't Need an Enemy (1972)
- Death in the Snow (1973)
- Tangled Murders (1988)
- Missing Man (1990)
- Interloper (1990)