A blown-out knee isn’t the only source of pain for Santa Fe Police Chief Kevin Kerney as he embarks on his seventh satisfying adventure. There’s the strain of his long-distance marriage to Lt. Col. Sara Brannon, very much the career officer, very much preoccupied with her grueling Command and General Staff course at Fort Leavenworth, very much pregnant with Kerney’s child—a new sibling for Clayton Istee, whose existence Kerney has learned of only recently. Istee, late of the Mescaslero (Apache) Tribal Police and now a deputy sheriff in Lincoln County, New Mexico, happens to be the dad of two, making Kerney an instant grandfather. But Kerney finds familial comfort in painfully short supply. From Sara, he gets periodic disbursements of anger hot enough to burn up telephone wires; from Istee, icy resentment that seems impenetrable. Though both criticize Kerney’s behavior towards them, neither is specific enough to be helpful. Meanwhile, Kerney has to contend with the dead body of Anna Marie Montoya. After vanishing without a trace 11 years ago, she’s been suddenly disinterred by Deputy Istee. Last time around, the case was Kerney’s, among his most frustrating because his most manful efforts produced no results. Will Deputy Istee succeed where Sheriff Kerney failed? Does he ever hope so—and so, in a way, does Kerney.
As deft, tidy, and character-driven as its six predecessors (Under the Color of Law, 2001, etc.). No one does the small-city police procedural more authoritatively than McGarrity.