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The remains are identified as those of Kim Ward, a troubled former rodeo competitor who had a brief, rocky relationship with former Santa Fe police chief Kevin Kerney at a time when Kerney had just returned from Vietnam and was struggling with alcohol and symptoms of post-traumatic stress. The problem for Istee is that his prime suspect, Kevin Kerney, is his father. Beginning with Tularosa in , McGarrity wrote 12 previous novels in the series, culminating with Dead or Alive Very popular among Western fiction readers for its historical depth and panoramic settings, the trilogy marked a notable change of pace and perspective that McGarrity needed to set aside in order to return to his police procedural series.
Given that a decade has passed since the appearance of a new Kevin Kerney novel, McGarrity and his editor had to expect that Residue would be greeted by a crop of new crime fiction readers not familiar with the rest of his series.
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It would be necessary to reintroduce Kerney, so to speak, and provide a fresh take on the character. A full examination of the character, then, would seem to be in order. Early chapters contain a certain amount of flat explanation and backstory, but for the most part Kerney yields center stage so often to Clayton Istee and other secondary characters that his character functions more as a prime suspect trying to clear his name than the hero after whom the series is named.
Was everything said about her 10 years ago that needed to be said? In Residue her role is that of a volunteer investigator helping her husband track down alternate theories for the cold case murder. Even more perplexing is the boneheaded decision by Kerney and Istee to impersonate active state police officers in order to gain entry into a nursing home to interview a resident.
Since this stupid play results in arrest warrants that plague them as the plot chugs onward, readers scratch their heads and wonder why experienced professionals would come up with something this dumb as a pretext to enter a facility through the back door rather than just walk in the front door and ask their questions. Not very believable.
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