We fans of Kate Delafield have waited nine long years for the next installment in Katherine V. Forrest’s acclaimed detective series. It is here. “High Desert” finds Delafield five months into retirement, alone and sinking fast. Her life partner of two decades, Aimee, is gone. Her best friend Maggie is fighting a losing battle against cancer, and her former commander Captain Walcott informs Kate that her former partner on the job, Joe Cameron, is missing.
Captain Walcott offers Kate two things that may right her sinking ship, a business card for a woman from Kate’s past who once helped her, and could again, and a job: Find Joe Cameron before officialdom steps in.
Kate takes the job and the card, and begins a desperate race to catch the wind and fill the sails, so to speak: Kate is determined to be there for Maggie, she vows to find Joe and get him out of whatever trouble he may face and she also tries again to get the help she needs for herself.
As the facts start coming in about Joe, tension builds. Maggie takes a turn for the worse, and Kate wants to help her, but can’t. Joe’s situation begins to look like a life and death situation in the desert. Kate somehow manages, with little sleep and almost no time, to squeeze in visits with the woman who once helped her.
Of course, there is the usual Kate-too-stubborn-for-her-own-good, blind-to-the-facts approach she takes to personal issues versus the all-seeing range of Kate the professional. But dealing with Joe’s disappearance, is that personal or professional? Those lines cross, and Kate begins to see things in focus, in the high desert, in the hospice home, in her visits with the woman from her past.
Once again, we have a Kate who is sluggish, if not deliberately resistant, to helping herself, refusing to do anything to improve her life, while putting others first.
The timeline shortens, for Joe’s situation, for Maggie, for Kate. The resolution leaves the reader wanting more. Another Delafield book, please.