Gunn ratchets it up a notch in this third novel in her series regarding her Tucson based police detective Sarah Burke as she takes on the nefarious world of people smuggling. “Kissing Arizona” is two stories blended together by Gunn’s immaculate style of writing. In a timely message for Tucson, she examines the world of the illegal,Mexican immigrants and brilliantly diagrams the problems from both sides of the border, delving into how pick-ups are made once the illegal alien reaches Arizona and discusses the underlying issues of the underworld of stowing these undocumented, migrant workers.
Young Vicky lived in Tucson as a small child coming over the border as an infant. When her father leaves and her mother gets busted and deported, Vicky is torn from her baby sister who was born in the States and so is a citizen. The younger child stays with an aunt while Vicky and her mother are sent home to Mexico. Vicky is not satisfied with her lot in life and uses her teenage wiles to get a boyfriend to aide her return to Tucson and tells him America is so grand she cannot wait to kiss the ground once she gets back to Arizona.
Meanwhile, Detective Sarah Burke has found a collection of human bones: a broken body deposited in concrete and has to hunt for the head. She and her crew of police detectives are also investigating the bloody deaths of a long-time business owner and his wife, their bodies arranged in what could be a murder-suicide until the forensic's report comes back. With two murderers to track down, Burke attempts to juggle her career, as well as the lives of her displaced niece and mother, both who reside with her, until they decide to pool resources and with help from her police officer boyfriend, all move in together. Of course, they will need the assistance of a local cleaning firm, one that Vicky’s aunt owns and so the taut story twists in the shimmering, summer heat of Arizona.