1. A murder mystery: who killed Felicity Dill?
Felicity Dill is a young cop in the Texas border town of San Bonifacio who unexpectedly dies when someone bombs her car. Who killed her? And why? Her older sister Allegra comes to town looking for answers. As she soon discovers, she’ll have to unpeel all of San Bonifacio like an onion to solve Felicity’s murder.
2. No shortage of comic relief
Who said a murder mystery can’t be funny? During her investigation of Felicity’s death, Allegra crosses paths with locals who are comically stubborn, eccentric, enthusiastic — sometimes all at once.
3. The epic showdown between Jake Spivey and Clyde Brattle
Allegra discovers a bitter power struggle among politicians, law enforcement, and the press. Maybe the most intense battle of all, though, takes place between Jacob Spivey — the richest guy in town — and his old business partner, Clyde Brattle. They got rich selling weapons in the Middle East, and now they’re the subject of a congressional investigation. Senator Ramirez only needs one of them to flip.
4. Allegra Dill’s fierce wardrobe
Allegra Dill works for a United States Senator, which doesn’t mean she can’t be a fashion icon. For her trip to Texas, she’s brought a wardrobe full of power suits in every color. Her sunglasses are huge. She wears dress shirts with black mesh floral print, white ones with frills. It all nicely complements A.D. Singe’s preference for Hawaiian shirts.
5. Mayor Salazar’s slovenly antics
It’s a wonder Antonio Salazar has risen to the position of town mayor. He’s a bully, a slob, a drunk — and yet, he’s running for his fourth straight re-election. Then again, he’s a politician, with powerful friends and strong instincts for self-preservation.
6. The food
Briarpatch revolves around the restaurants of San Bonifacio. There’s the Press Club, where the veteran journalist Freddie Laffter holds court, and the diner, where Allegra and Singe sip coffee and brief one another, debate, and devise action plans. Allegra’s investigation flows through local burger spot Burgers & Burgers and the beloved tamale specialist Lupe’s. And then there’s Allegra’s preferred method of staying cool (and sane): ice-cold beers whenever possible, and maybe the occasional snow cone.
7. Harold Snow and Cindy McCabe’s new-age romance
Harold Snow and Cindy McCabe aren’t only the last people to see Felicity Dill alive. They are a thoroughly new-age couple; Cindy has her weekly pudding cam-show, speaks of auras, and tends to Harold via the ancient practice of cupping. To be clear, they aren’t officially dating, though they do have a word for their relationship that means “sexual explorer” in Sanskrit.
8. The bleak geography of San Bonifacio
San Bonifacio is a border town. It’s also a desert town: hot, flat, with yellow sand extending out in all directions, seemingly forever. All of this contrasts with the mansion of Jacob Spivey, the richest man in town. His grounds are lush, well-manicured, and tropical. He practically lives in an oasis.
9. Gene and Lucretia Colder’s hilariously dysfunctional marriage
Captain Eugene Colder relocated his wife over 2,000 miles for a job in town, and now their marriage is careening off the rails in tragicomic fashion. Their relationship is perhaps best symbolized by their cat Donna, who has mysteriously gone missing.
10. The stakes couldn’t be higher
As Allegra attempts to navigate — and upend — the power structure of San Bonifacio, she finds herself dealing with people who are corrupt, egotistical, manipulative and willing to kill. Felicity is the first to die in Briarpatch. Will she be the last?