Retired Santa Fe Police Chief Kevin Kerney emerges from a long absence since his last outing (Dead or Alive, 2009) just in time to be wanted for murder.
Looks like Kerney’s wife, Brig. Gen. Sara Brannon, will have to put the party celebrating her retirement as commandant of the Army Military Police School on hold: The groundbreaking for the Edna Fergurson Center for Artists-in-Residence at New Mexico State has turned up the skeleton of Kim Ward, Kerney's college sweetheart, and now his former colleagues are baying at Kerney’s heels to arrest him for murder. The evidence against him may not seem strong—months after they’d broken up, he met her the night she went missing, deeply upsetting artist Edna Fergurson, who’d hoped they’d make a go of it, and that partial fingerprint on the cartridge taken from her skull just might be his—but it’s more evidence than they have against anybody else, and after 45 years, they’re not inclined to look much further. Though his wife never questions his innocence, Kerney constantly has to fence with Lt. Clayton Istee, the long-unacknowledged son who’s part of the investigation, and with NMSP Agent Paul Avery, who seems determined to nail him. Sara hires sharp lawyer Gary Dalquist to represent her husband, who identifies a more promising suspect in the decades-old case. But not even an apparently climactic shootout that leaves both the suspect and one of the officers who’s gone up against him dead settles things for good because Kerney’s nosing around has inadvertently led him to another perp who knows nothing about Kim Ward’s murder but is up to his neck in an unrelated criminal enterprise that he’s dangerously determined to preserve from official oversight.
An unholy mess of more felonies than you can shake a stick at—and that’s only counting the ones committed by the good guys. Whether or not McGarrity’s veteran hero beats the rap, the New Mexico legal system will never be the same.