A long, tense, well-nigh perfect prologue finds former Santa Fe cop Kevin Kerney (Mexican Hat, 1997, etc.) in a New Mexico State uniform, trying to interview schizophrenic Robert Cordova, a crucial witness in the murder of Patrolman Paul Gillespie. Tracking down Cordova is no big problem; holding onto him is, and so is getting anything like a coherent statement out of the man who claims he saw Satan rape his daughter. Just as Kerney’s made an unexpected arrest, the real action starts: Thieves break into the Governor’s office and make off with a priceless collection of artwork. Kerney’s old buddy Andy Baca, the new chief of the State Police, wants Kerney in charge of the investigation as Deputy Chief. The decision ruffles feathers on every uniform down the line, but it’s just fine with Enrique DeLeon, the Jua’rez smuggler who masterminded the caper. His past run-ins with Kerney have whetted his appetite for revenge, and except for murderous attempts to cover his tracks, he doesn’t do much of anything but plot Kerney’s demise in one sharply drawn, but predictably futile, action scene after another. Luckily, there’s still enough life in the Gillespie case, even though it’s been solved, to give Kerney more to do than dodge bullets and wait for DeLeon to run out of ammo or underlings. Accomplished, routine work, then, except for that high-octane opening act, which could hook Kerney a big new audience as early as page one.