The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 30, 2008

Book review: Well-drawn characters drive 'Death Song'

‘Death Song’

By Michael McGarrity (compact disc audiobook)

“Death Song” is the 11th police procedural mystery in the Kevin Kerney series. The novel is set in northern New Mexico, Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and police Chief Kerney is only a few months away from retirement.

Rookie deputy sheriff Tim Riley is killed shortly after he begins his new job with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department. The deputy’s wife, Denise, is found gruesomely murdered several miles away at the couple’s home in Santa Fe. Denise was the sister of a good friend of Kerney’s; therefore he’s determined to hunt down the murderer or murderers before he retires. Kerney teams up with Police Sergeant Clayton Istee, his Mescalero Apache son, for the investigation.

The police have few clues and no known motives for the slayings. Kerney and Istee methodically search for potential suspects for the murders. One of the suspects is Brian Riley, son of the murdered deputy from a previous marriage. The investigation uncovers a drug-trafficking ring, more murders and international connections to the case.

I only recently discovered Michael McGarrity, but I have added his series to my list of “must reads.” The well-drawn characters are a joy, and the plot provides suspense to the end. George Guidall provides his usual excellent narration for McGarrity’s engrossing mystery.

The Joplin Public Library also owns the regular print version.

‘Thunder Bay’

By William Kent Kreuger (MP3 compact disc audiobook)

Northern Minnesota and bordering Ontario provide the setting for “Thunder Bay,” the seventh mystery in the Cork O’Connor series.

Cork, former sheriff turned private investigator, is approached by his friend and mentor, Objibwe medicine man Henry Meloux, to find Meloux’s son, whom he has never seen. Meloux’s single clue to finding his son is a watch with a picture of his son’s mother taken about 70 years ago. Cork is torn between a family crisis and helping his old friend locate his son.

A flashback in the novel describes Henry’s story as a youth in the 1920s when he met and fell in love with Maria Lima, a beautiful Cuban girl traveling with her father and gold prospectors in Canada. Now, 70 years later, Henry learns that Maria married Leonard Wellington, one of the gold prospectors. After only two months of marriage to Wellington, Maria’s son was born and she named him Henry. When Cork learns that Henry Wellington is a wealthy Howard Hughes-type recluse, he has little hope of reuniting Henry with his son.

“Thunder Bay” is a wonderful story of suspense and mystery full of family secrets, great characters, murder and greed. Buck Schirner’s narration is excellent.

“Thunder Bay” is also available in regular print and the multiple-disc compact disc versions as well as the MP3 format. The MP3 single disc format is especially convenient when traveling.

‘Santa Fe Dead’

By Stuart Woods (compact disc audiobook)

Ed Eaglem, a famous Santa Fe trial lawyer, and Ed’s new girlfriend, Susannah Wilde, watch the trial on television of his insane ex-wife, Barbara. Barbara was on trial for killing two people whom she mistook for Ed and his girlfriend. Ed had been a witness at her trial and is awaiting the verdict. Meanwhile, Barbara escapes from the courthouse just before the jury announces her acquittal. Ed realizes that he and Savannah are in danger until Barbara is recaptured.

Barbara, with an alias, undergoes a makeover and is relaxing at a spa when she meets billionaire widower Walter Keeler. The two marry after a whirlwind romance of a couple of days. Ed learns of his ex-wife’s wedding and writes a letter to her new husband alerting him to Barbara’s past and warning him not to change his will. Walter dies unexpectedly in a traffic accident. Barbara is not happy when she discovers the conditions of her husband’s will and learns of Ed’s letter. Ed is aware of how devious and lethal his ex-wife can be; consequently he and Susannah must be constantly on the alert for their own safety.

“Santa Fe Dead” is a fast-paced thriller with murders, cover-ups and intrigue. Fans of Stuart Woods should enjoy this quick summer read narrated by Michael Kramer. In addition to the audiobook, “Santa Fe Dead” is available in regular and large print editions at the Joplin Public Library.

Phyllis Seesengood is the technical services librarian at Joplin Public Library.