cover image Tularosa

Tularosa

Michael McGarrity, Author W. W. Norton & Company $25 (304p) ISBN 978-0-393-03922-1

Few first mysteries are as fresh and powerful as this rich Southwestern tale of tough, credible characters involved in a complex, danger-fraught plot centering around stolen historical artifacts. Kevin Kerney is still recovering from the physical and psychic wounds that forced his retirement from the Santa Fe police force, when his former partner asks him to search for his son-Kerney's godson-who is AWOL from nearby White Sands Missile Range. At the top-secret base, Kerney forges an uneasy alliance with Captain Sara Brannon, an astute Army investigator. Together, they travel on horseback into the restricted San Andres Mountains and the isolated Tularosa Valley, former Apache country where Kerney grew up, and stumble on a plundered cache of military goods from the Civil War era. Escaping with their lives, they follow separate paths to discover who is selling the stolen goods to whom. The search takes them and a vivid supporting cast (notably an Army corporal who disguises himself as jorobado, a hunchback believed in Mexican tradition to bring good luck) to both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. McGarrity demonstrates firm control of his action-packed material, marking a trail with corpses (of the good and the very bad) to a tense, neatly orchestrated finale in the seamy border town of Juarez. Blending an air of the old West with some very modern characters, McGarrity delivers atmosphere, action, romance and prime satisfaction. (May) FYI: McGarrity is a former member of the Santa Fe Sheriff's Department.