Mexican Hat by Michael McGarrity
With 1996's Hardcover edition.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Multiple plotlines in the southwest? No Hillerman here., January 7, 2002
from Rancho Santa Margarita, CA USA
Many readers will make the error, just as I did, in thinking all southwestern mysteries were Hillerman copies, chock full of Native American lore, spirituality, and culture. Author Michael McGarrity has now proven me wrong, twice over, but in a pleasing way that will be having me read future installments of our hero Kevin Kerney. Similar in style to Tularosa, the reader will find themselves involved in numerous, major plotlines, all seemingly unique from each other, but finally converging in the end into an explosive climax that does not let the reader feel cheated. On the contrary, the multiple story threads are well paced between each other so as one does not get lost in the overall story direction and forget about certain characters or situations like other novels are known to do. Here we find ex-cop Kerney just months after his role in 'Tularosa' just making ends meet as a temp park ranger for the forest service investigating a recent string of animal poaching. It just so happens that two Mexicans (a grandson and grandfather) find themselves in the wrong place and the wrong time, and one of them gets murdered, Kerney finds himself as part of the investigations. Enter his new pseudo partner, a young Jim Stiles, all too eager to impress Kerney and his superiors and ends up getting shot at, but by who? Kerney is impressed by this young mans detective skills, but realizes that he himself was the target. Omar Gatewood, the local sheriff is more a politician than a cop, and proves to be inept at the worst times, or does he have a master plan? A family feud between ranchers Edgar and Eugene Cox has kept the twin brothers from speaking to each other in over sixty years, but when a note is delivered to Edgar he breaks the silence to confront his oppressive and abusive crippled brother. Why did Eugene's wife disapear all those years ago? Karen Cox returns to her roots as the new local ADA, and takes notice of the strong and silent Kerney. She likes him, but has to work with him, and how does she deal with her fathers lie, and ensuing family feud. And how does her current case and the assassination attempt on Kerney fit into all this? The positive aspect of introducing a new female interest for Kerney is that the author really does not push it. In Tularosa, Kerney was smitten by Sara who left at the end, and the author realizes that a new woman can't pick up the pieces immediately, but develops Karen for future novels. The only problems I had with this novel, keeping it from five stars, was the authors constant, almost unending reminders that Kerney has a bad knee suffered from an injury years back. Okay, I got it...knee hurt. Also Jim Stiles girlfriend Molly's dialogue seemed a bit...fake. I believed in all the characters in this novel except Molly...she seemed to stick out like a displaced soap star...thank God she was only a minor part of the novel and does not detract from any one else. Other than those two quirks, I believe that Mexican Hat was an excellent adventure that had me guessing for quite a bit on how all these threads would weave together and I was happy with the end result. I will be reading future installments.