|Michael McGarrity: The Big Gamble|
The burned out hulk of an abandoned fruit stand yields two bodies. The first, an apparent drifter, died from a clean knife wound through the heart. The second, a young woman, suffered deadly blows to the head. Preliminary investigation of the murders falls to Deputy Sheriff Clayton Istee of Lincoln County, New Mexico. Confirmation of the young woman's identity as that of a woman missing for almost eleven years re-opens a cold case and teams the sheriff with his estranged father, Santa Fe Police Chief Kevin Kerney.
Independent investigations begin. Istee, assigned as lead investigator in the murder of the drifter, tracks down leads to the drifter's identity through articles found in the murdered man's back pack. As the inquiry begins to move toward a solution, Istee's prime suspect turns up murdered in a sleazy motel room, and a contract is placed on the sheriff's life.
In Santa Fe, Kerney resumes the eleven years' cold investigation into the death of Anna Marie Montoya. Numerous interviews and extensive background checks lead to the possible involvement of an illegal prostitution ring. An undercover police officer infiltrates the organization and provides much needed details about the operation. Kerney, dealing with the anger and frustration of the murdered girl's family and his feelings about his own family and his estranged son, pieces together a puzzle which leads him to the highest levels of the political spectrum.
A common thread soon becomes apparent, and the two investigations merge. The combined effort results in a monumental meshing of law enforcement agencies which unearths a tangled web of murder, drug trafficking, prostitution, money laundering, corporate corruption and tax evasion.
McGarrity puts together a fascinating story which might serve as a primer on the details of police procedures and investigations. He blends the story with believable and appealing characters and a well developed sense of the mores of the Southwest where the story takes place. The story line, however, does not get bogged down in detail. Instead its pace provides a suspenseful and convincing reading experience which fans and casual readers of the genre should find satisfying from beginning to end.
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