Another impeccable outing from the master of the small-city procedural (The Big Gamble, 2002, etc.)
Santa Fe’s the small city, Kevin Kerney its estimable police chief, a man of strong convictions, strong feelings—sensitive, yes, but sufficiently draconian when the situation warrants. Now, however, he finds himself stalked by a relentless sociopath bent on vengeance for acts of aggression he chooses not to specify and Kerney can’t imagine. The decorated war veteran, famously cool under fire, would never be unduly disturbed by threats aimed solely at him, but his heart does flip-flops when he reads a note that says: “Kerney, can’t wait to meet the wife. See you soon.” Found near the corpse of a woman horribly murdered, it refers ominously to Sara Brannon Kerney, days away from delivering their child. A horse Kerney lovingly trained is slaughtered; the house owned by Clayton Istee, Kerney’s son, is booby-trapped, blown to bits; the hospital where Sarah’s confined is scarily penetrated. Corpses pile up, the investigation heats up, but the avenger is not only clever but also well informed about cops and the ways an unwary perpetrator can play into (or a savvy one remain tantalizingly out of) their hands. At length, of course, the Kerneys and their would-be killer meet face-off in a denouement as sudden and violent as it is satisfying.
Warning to the fainthearted: Every thirty pages or so your mouth may go dry.