cover image The Judas Judge

The Judas Judge

Michael McGarrity, Author Dutton Books $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-525-94547-5

McGarrity's novels keep getting richer as they change focus slightly with each new publisher. This novel, the fifth in the series, is the first to be issued by Dutton, McGarrity's third publisher; it's also the most personal book of the series, with Kerney, Deputy Chief of the New Mexico State Police, now married to career U.S. Army officer Lt. Col. Sara Brannon and about to become a millionaire by selling the huge tract of land he inherited in Hermit's Peak (1999) to the Nature Conservancy. The story opens with a slam-bang scene in which Kerney is forced to shoot a crooked cop. The theme recurs, but the meat of the novel involves the murders of six people in quick succession. The police at first think they're ""spree"" killings, but Kerney soon identifies the last crime as different and its victim, a retired district court judge, as the real target. Most of the action focuses on Kerney's methodical and excruciatingly detailed police work, as well as on his spot-on intuitive hunches. Although this volume moves a little slower than the previous four, it still rivets attention--not with shoot-'em-ups and car chases, but by gradually uncovering secrets hidden by a large cast of well-drawn suspects, with McGarrity serving up enough red herrings to sate the population of Stockholm. It's the discovery of the murderer's means, opportunity and psychological make-up that makes this such a difficult case--and a book that's hard to put down. (July)