"Burning Daylight" by David Edgerley Gates, in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, July/August 2012.
Well, Mr. Gates is having a good year. This is the third time in nine months he has made my best-of-the-week list. And the stories have been very different. One historical, one urban, and now a rural police procedural.
Hector is a deputy in Montana, near a national forest. When two kids report seeing a double-wide trailer explode he knows it was a meth lab. Since the drug-maker went up with his product Hector could have let it go at that but he is a good cop and wants to know what happened: specifically, how did a Gulf War vet wind up making drugs out in the wilderness? And which comes first, supply or demand? The trail becomes darker and grimmer.
"With all due respect, don't preach the law to me."
"The law's all we've got between us and the stone age."
"Frank, for Christ's sake, this IS the stone age."
A powerful piece of work.