Nothing But Trouble By Michael McGarrity
If I could meet a character from a mystery novel, I’d like to meet Kevin Kerney, who is the fictional police chief of Santa Fe, New Mexico, the creation of Michael McGarrity. We have both aged considerably since the first novel in this series, Tularosa, was published in 1996. By the eighth novel in the series, Everyone Dies, Kerney is still an attractive guy but he is tired; tired of his job, and his disillusionment with humankind is wearing him down. He’d like to finish building the house he will live in with his wife and the baby they are expecting.
But, as usual–this is a murder mystery after all–murder gets in the way. It starts with the murder of a well-liked lawyer in downtown Santa Fe, but it doesn’t stop there.
There is another murder, and another, with the clear message that eventually Kevin Kerney, his wife and their child will be the final victims. The relationship of Kerney and his adult son from a long ago relationship also develops significantly.
Somehow, I missed reading the ninth in the series, Slow Kill, when it was first released in hard cover in 2004.
So I had the pleasure recently of reading both Slow Kill and its sequel Nothing But Trouble, one after the other. In Slow Kill, Kerney has come to terms with the difficulty of his domestic situation, as his wife, Sara, and infant son live in Washington while he is in Santa Fe.
It is a short term separation because Sara is working at the Pentagon while Kerney puts in a couple more years before retirement in Santa Fe. It is while in California on a short holiday buying horses that Kerney finds himself the suspect in a murder case.
The case is ultimately solved, but there remains the mystery of a missing man, a soldier who was thought to have been killed in Vietnam.
When Kerney asks Sara to look up some military records, they stumble into a situation that becomes very complicated and dangerous. It is not quite wrapped up by the end of this book. It is concluded in the newest in the series, Nothing But Trouble.
While Kerney takes some time off to help an old friend making a film in the area, and lands in the middle of a murder investigation, Sara is continuing to unravel the mystery of the missing soldier from the previous novel.
As always, the books are well-written and suspenseful, with a very satisfying cast of secondary characters, as the concerns of their lives are entwined in the plot. The exotic southwest setting of Santa Fe draws the reader into the rich native culture of New Mexico, and the spectacular surrounding landscape is a beautiful escape from the horror of the murders.
Michael McGarrity is a craftsman, an expert at bringing his characters alive and creating the suspense of a good page-turner. In spite of murder and vengeance, Santa Fe is not such a bad place to escape to every year or two with each new Michael McGarrity murder mystery.