Kevin Kerney Books in Order: How to read Michael McGarrity’s Series?

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Written by New Mexican author and former law enforcement officer Michael McGarrity, the Kevin Kerney series takes place in New Mexico, from the Tularosa Basin and Lincoln County to Hermit’s Peak, but also sometimes in Santa Fe. It’s about law enforcement officer Kevin Kerney who used to be a cop, a private investigator, and even a forest ranger, but he is now a police chief.

How to read the Kevin Kerney Series in Order?

I. The Kerney Family Trilogy

The Kerney Family Trilogy (aka The American West Trilogy) is a prequel to the Kevin Kerney crime series.  It’s not a crime series, but the Kerney family’s history in New Mexico. The story takes place between 1875 and the end of the Vietnam War.

  • Hard Country – In the wake of the death of his wife as she gives birth to his son, and the killing of his brother on the West Texas plains, John Kerney is forced to give up his ranch, leave his son behind, and strike out in search of the murderous outlaws and a place where he can start over. He drifts south until he meets a man who offers him work trailing cattle to the New Mexico Territory and forever changes his life.
  • Backlands – When the world spirals into the Great Depression and drought settles like a plague over the nation, Matthew Kerney must abandon his own dreams to salvage the Kerney ranch. Plunged into a deep trough of dark family secrets, hidden crimes, broken promises, and lies, Matt must struggle to survive on the unforgiving, sun-blasted Tularosa Basin.
  • The Last Ranch – When Matthew Kerney returns to his ranch, honorably discharged after serving in Sicily during World War II, he must not only endeavor to recover physically and emotionally from a devastating combat injury, but he must also fight attempts by the U.S. Army to seize control of his land for expanded weapons testing.

II. The Kevin Kerney Series

  1. Tularosa – It’s been two years since an on-the-job shooting forced ex-Santa Fe chief of detectives Kevin Kerney to retire. He is drawn back into action when Terry Yazzi, his former partner and the man responsible for his wounds, pleads for Kerney’s help. Yazzi’s son, a soldier, has disappeared in the barren desert surrounding the White Sands Missile Range.
  2. Mexican Hat – Taking a job as a seasonal forest ranger in New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness, Kevin Kerney is looking forward to a quiet summer high in the mountains. But the murder of a Mexican tourist, and the discovery of a disoriented old man in the wild, thrust Kerney into an investigation that will carry him back in time to a sixty-year-old feud between two land-rich brothers, Edgar and Eugene Cox.
  3. Serpent Gate – After receiving a call from the newly appointed chief of the New Mexico State Police, ex-Santa Fe chief of detectives Kevin Kerney is thrown into an investigation of a small-town cop-killing no one has been able to solve. His only lead: a homeless schizophrenic’s ramblings about rape and an uncharted place called Serpent Gate.
  1. Hermit’s Peak – When Kevin Kerney, deputy chief of the New Mexico State Police, inherits an unexpected windfall of 6,400 acres of high-county land, the last thing he wants to think about is work. But while visiting his new property, he comes across an ailing stray dog that leads him to the butchered bones of a murder victim near the rugged mountain of Hermit’s Peak.
  2. The Judas Judge – In a remote New Mexico campground, six people are killed in an apparently senseless murder spree. Kevin Kerney suspects the slaying wasn’t random at all-but rather a calculated plot to eliminate one high-profile victim, retired judge, Vernon Langsford.
  3. Under the Color of Law – Newly-installed Santa Fe police chief Kevin Kerney receives a deadly welcome when a U.S. ambassador’s ex-wife is brutally stabbed to death in her home. But before Kerney can begin to investigate, the FBI closes the case with trumped-up evidence. And the harder Kerney hunts for the truth, the more he knows that he may not survive the chase.
  1. The Big Gamble – Santa Fe police chief, Kevin Kerney is back-with his estranged son. Two bodies have been found in a burned building. One is a missing person from Kerney’s cold case files. The other is a more recent homicide. Both will lead father and son into a vast network of crime…and the darkest places of the soul.
  2. Everyone Dies – Eagerly awaiting the birth of his first child when a prominent homosexual lawyer is murdered, Santa Fe police chief Kevin Kerney directs his staff along elusive leads that result in two additional deaths and the discovery of a chilling series of killings.
  3. Slow Kill – Santa Fe Police Chief Kevin Kerney travels to a California ranch looking to buy some prime quarter horse breeding stock. Instead, he finds himself the prime suspect in a possible homicide when the ranch owner, Clifford Spalding, is found dead.
  1. Nothing But Trouble After years away on the pro rodeo circuit, Johnny Jordan struts into Santa Fe to ask his boyhood friend, Kevin Kerney, to serve as a technical advisor on a contemporary Western movie to be filmed along the Mexican border.
  2. Death Song – The bushwhack killing of a deputy sheriff in Lincoln County and the brutal murder of the deputy?s wife in Santa Fe County bring Police Chief Kevin Kerney and his Mescalero Apache son, Sergeant Clayton Istee, back together. The double homicide investigation is soon linked to a major drug trafficking scheme and the cold-blooded slaughter of two women in Albuquerque.
  3. Dead or Alive – Racing to his New Mexico ranch home after a disturbing phone call, retired Santa Fe police chief Kevin Kerney is horrified to learn that his horse-training partner, Riley Burke, has been murdered by an escaped prisoner, prompting Kerney to team up with his half-Apache son.
  1. Residue – A long-unsolved missing person case becomes a homicide investigation when the bones of Kim Ward are unearthed in Las Cruces, New Mexico, forty-five years after her disappearance. Compelling forensic and anecdotal evidence quickly shifts suspicion to Ward’s old college boyfriend: former Santa Fe Police Chief Kevin Kerney.
  2. Head Wounds – Clayton Istee, son of retired police chief Kevin Kerney, goes up against an elusive Mexican hitman in a mesmerizing story of murder, revenge, and redemption. Given a chance to salvage his law enforcement career, Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Detective Clayton Istee catches a bizarre late-night double homicide at a Las Cruces hotel. Both victims, a man and a woman, have been scalped with their throats cut.

If you like our article about the Kevin Kerney reading order, don’t forget to bookmark it! If you are into outdoorsy crime stories, check out the ones with Cork O’Connor or Dave Robicheaux.

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