Another in the series about Kevin Kerney, chief of police in Santa Fe NM. I'm usually behind by a couple years in reading these police procedurals and I've yet to go back to the first for re-reading. It doesn't matter; McGarrity writes these so that you can pick up in the middle and still understand the characters without needing all the backstory. That's very refreshing in a series, so you're not either lost or wincing at the artificial tone of the infodump that's needed to catch up.
In this book, Kerney is in Paso Robles CA at a luxurious ranch looking to buy some horses when another guest at the ranch is found dead. After discovering the dead man also has connections to Santa Fe the local police take a hard look at Kerney. He of course calls his office to start them on the trail as well, and soon gets fixated on the victims ex-wife's insistence that her son, killed in Vietnam, is not really dead.
I liked the pace of the book, it kept me reading right through. I've been to most of the places described and McGarritty does a fine job of describing the scenery. But I had some problems with a few events and the time frame of the novel. A minor part was Kerney at this ranch that breeds racing quarter horses so he could buy cutting horse stock. But cutting horses are judged on cow sense, not racing ability, and there are well-known bloodlines for the best. He didn't even try the horses on cows. It was one of those minor quibbles that pulls you out of the story.
I liked how Kerney was able to call on his wife for assistance with the Army bureaucracy. It added warmth and also a subplot, as she deals with her own interesting case (unresolved in this book, so I'm assuming it continues in the next). I didn't care for the ending at all; he spends all this time working up to a denouement, and then poof, within a couple paragraphs it's wrapped up. Plus I had a hard time believing the murderer would choose to run in that fashion, especially running to that particular place.
SLOW KILL is a nice read, definitely worth it, but not McGarrity's best.
I don't know, but there's something about this guy, Kerney....good who- dunit, from the first page!
McGarrity's hero, Santa Fe police chief Kevin Kerney, finds himself involved in a murder investigation while in California on a trip to buy horses for his New Mexico ranch. McGarrity, a former sheriff's deputy, writes convincingly of both police work and the NM landscape and fleshes out his hero with a believable and sympathetic personal life.
While visiting a California ranch, Sant Fe police chief Kevin Kerney stumbles upon the murder of hotel magnate Clifford Spalding. Spalding was definitely a marked man, considering the sordid characters in his life: his conniving wife, her shady lover, and a deranged and bitter ex. But when the case is apparently solved, Kerney's investigation leads him to believe it's not the end of the story at all, just the beginning of a mystery rooted in the strange disappearance of
Spaulding's son thirty years before - and a secret that the old man may have taken to his grave.
I have read every one of McGarrity's books....I have liked them all.
This book doesn't have Kearney's older son, also a policeman, whom we have met in several previous books. In this one, Patrick the 10-month old son living near the Pentagon, with Sara Kearney's career army wife, Sara gets a bit of the spotlight. The unusual marriage between Kevin and Sara gets strained a bit, but also becomes more solid as a result. I think they cleared up a bit of the strain too. Sara has a path for herself and Kevin accepted that path when he decided they should marry. Kevin resists some flirtation by some of the women he meets in the course of the book.
Several seemingly unrelated plot threads come together when parts of Kearney's investigation turn out to be things that Sara can help him investigate.
The main plot thread revolves around a young man who supposedly died in a helicopter crash in Viet Nam 30 years before. Or did he? Right now, anything that recalls Viet Nam has some resonance for many of us, and the characters involved in this part of the plot include everything from hippies on communes to rich men who buy their kids' way out of the war.
You can tell, pretty much as soon as we meet the crazy old lady, that she is not, in fact, crazy. It's not a spoiler to tell you that much. The dead man's current wife, on the other hand, is a little more psychopathic than she seems at first.
And when we meet the people to whom the pharmacist has been selling drugs, it's a nice contrast between the old hippies, supposedly all stoned, and the rich people who are currently stoned. I like the irony here.
That should be enough teasers to make you want to read the book fairly soon.
Some would say that if you haven't read ANY of the previous books in the series, you would be better off if you find copies and read them, before starting this book. I have read all the books in the series but somehow feel that you could read this as a stand alone. Of course other might say a full appreciation of what's going on in the plot depends, in part, on knowing our characters' backgrounds.
This might be a case of read this one and you'll want to read the rest. Then again...
Police Chief Kerney finds himself a suspect in the murder of a man with whom he was scheduled to do business. As he digs deeper into the man's life, he uncovers another murder - unsolved for 30 years. Can he solve both and clear his name? Interesting all the way through. One of my favorite authors and this book doesn't disappoint. A good read!
Horse buying has perils
Very attractive series based on a lawman in New Mexico and his family. This is part of the series called the Kevin Kerney Novels. This paragraph applies to all books in this series. The story's are great, but what makes this series stand out is how the country is worked into the story, It's almost as if you are there. The author is a gifted story teller.
Do you need to read this series in order: Yes, it helps a lot. Note that Hard Country and Backlands (and one pending maybe) are the prequels.
Triggers: Cops and police situations, there are rapes, homicides, and crime.
Santa Fe Police Chief Kevin Kerney travels to a California ranch looking to buy some prime quarter horse breeding stock. Instead, he finds himself the prime suspect in a possible homicide when a guest at the ranch, Clifford Spalding, is found dead. Confronted by a determined cop unwilling to let him off the hook, Kerney decides to conduct his own investigation. As he digs into the victim's background, he learns that Spalding's ex-wife refuses to believe that her son, a soldier killed in Vietnam some thirty years ago, is dead. Kerney digs deeper and soon finds himself sharing the woman's doubts: Did Spalding's current wife, a much younger woman, orchestrate his murder with the help of a lover? Did a California cop collude with Spalding to keep his ex-wife from learning the truth about her son? Slow Kill races from West Coast to East Coast as Kerney attempts to find the answers to a thirty-year-old mystery and extricate himself from a situation that could ruin his career.