There are mystery series for crossword fans, quilters and cooks. Others have heroines who are interior designers, bounty hunters and caterers. Often these gimmicky series are like candy: sweet, guilty pleasures that don't stick with me very long.

This is not one of those series, if the first six installments are anything like "Point No Point." Minnesotan Mary Logue has always been on my have-to-read-someday list; when I finished the final page of her latest, I moved her up to my read-the-whole-series-right-now list.

Deputy Sheriff Claire Watkins is as real as the mom next door. I want to sit down and have a cup of coffee with her. She's dealing with perimenopause, her teenage daughter's sexual coming of age, a strained relationship with her boyfriend and a demanding job.

The novel takes place in Minnesota around Pepin County. You might recognize Point No Point as a spot in Lake Pepin. "It was a point that wasn't a point in a lake that wasn't a lake but a river," Logue writes.

That Logue is also a poet is quickly evident. Her writing is wonderfully descriptive. In the opening passage, Watkins and a colleague are in a boat on the Mississippi River during a hot spell in late August. They're heading out to investigate a body found floating. The reader can feel the waves, the heat and the horror of the scene: "Claire immediately saw what they had been summoned to examine: the humped back of a large naked body bobbing in the water like a listing buoy. So pale and vulnerable did the fleshy broad back seem in the dark-green soup of the river that Claire felt like reaching out a hand and patting it for reassurance."

Later that night, Watkins' boyfriend, Rich, gets a distraught call from their friend Chet, whose wife has been killed. Could Chet have done it? Could the slayings of the unidentified stranger and her close friend be connected? Watkins and her officers set out to find out.

In her personal life, a tired and cranky Watkins has a lot on her plate. She fears she is pregnant, only to learn that it is the beginning of menopause that is making her feel so crummy. She is knocked unconscious by a fleeing suspect and awakens with a severely broken arm. Her boyfriend moves out in anger at her suspicions toward Chet. And she worries: Just how sexual is her daughter's relationship with her boyfriend?

This says it so well: "Suddenly it felt like a hole opened up in the floor and she got sucked down into a vortex of panic: her life was falling apart. ... If there was a bad way to look at something, it presented itself to her at that moment, sitting in a wheelchair in a hospital, all alone."

In the end, things get sorted out, as they often do in mysteries, but it isn't a perfect, unrealistic ending. And it left me wanting to visit with Claire Watkins -- and Mary Logue --again, and soon.

Judy Romanowich Smith is a Star Tribune news designer.