Tour’s Books Blog

February 23, 2011

Two New Suspense Mysteries From Old Hands

Two of the most reliable authors in the mystery/suspense genre are the late William G Tapply and William Kent Krueger.  Their styles are profoundly different, Tapply writing lean, tightly plotted, short books and Krueger penning longer books with an almost lyrical quality to his prose that reminds me of Tony Hillerman.  What they have in common is a high standard.  From the late Tapply, who died in 2009, this last book is a complete departure – we have a stand alone suspense novel that is surprising in so many ways.  Krueger offers the 10th outing for Cork O’Connor in a bleak tale of old crimes coming back to haunt another generation with painful remembrance and new deaths.   The two very different books have that common theme – old sins come back and causing new ones that in turn uncover the past.

  • Title: The Nomination
  • Author:  William G Tapply
  • Type:  Suspense
  • Genre: Politics and cover-ups
  • Sub-genre:  Supreme Court nominee wants his past buried – literally
  • My Grade: C+ to B- (3.5*)
  • Rating:  PG-17
  • Length and price:  Full novel – about 80,000 hardcover $15-$17 on sale; list $24.95
  • Where Available:  Available at most bookstores
  • FTC Disclosure:  purchased from online bookstore (more…)

March 20, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Death Song by Michael McGarrity

Death Song, billed as a Kevin Kerney mystery, is set in Northern New Mexico – known to most mystery fans as Hillerman Territory.  Unlike Hillerman, McGarrity has always focused on the police procedural format combined with the travails of his central character, Kerney.  Comparisons with Hillerman are inevitable, not just because of the location, but because McGarrity began passing the torch of his key character to a younger investigator – Mescalero Apache Sergeant Clayton Istee.  In a previous book we learned that unbeknownst to Kerney till a few years ago, Istee was his son by an old sweetheart who hid the truth from both of them.  Now, we have young sergeant to Kerney’s retiring Chief, a close echo of Leaphorn-Chee.  Istee is also a more ‘traditional Apache’ like Jim Chee’s traditional Navajo juxtaposed to Leaphorn’s modern Navajo.  Unlike Hillerman, both characters are regular police, not tribal police (though Istee formerly was tribal police).  McGarrity’s straightforward prose is much better suited to the procedural genre.  With Hillerman’s more lush, atmospheric writing that works well with his complex character studies, mixed with myth and culture, the mystery is almost secondary to the overall story.

Death Song gets off to a roaring start with a brutal double murder.  A new Lincoln County deputy sheriff, Tim Riley, is shot in the face as he arrives home.  His wife, Denise, who is still in their old home up Santa Fe County is missing.  While the wife resides is outside Kerney’s jurisdiction, Denise is the youngest sister his long time friend and administrative assistant Helen Muiz.  When Tim can’t reach Denise by phone, he calls Helen and asks her to go over to the house and check on her.  When things don’t look right, Helen calls Kerney.  It’s Kerney and his detectives  first on the scene, initially as a favor, but then as lead detectives under the Sheriff’s department when her body is found locked in a horse trailer.  So Istee and Kerney, whose relationship is distant at best, are again brought into each other’s orbit.  Just to layer on the complications, Kerney’s wife Sara, a career military officer, is back from an Iraq tour with a Purple Heart, Silver Star, a promotion to full colonel – and a case of PTSD. Kerney is a month from retirement, and has no direct authority over either crime scene, but using politics eventually gets himself put in charge about half way through the book.  (more…)

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