Kevin Kerney

Created by Michael McGarrity

KEVIN KERNEY has been a cop, a private investigator, a forest ranger, a police chief and now a retired — but still rough and tough — police chief, out near Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Bur when he was introduced to us in Tularosa (1996), he was definitely a Forest Ranger.

Down these mean trails a man must go?

When a man’s forest is burned down, he’s supposed to do something about it?

Could the series turn out as dopey as it sounded at the time?

Evidently not.

Kerney had been chief of detectives in Santa Fe before he was gunned down. Gut-shot and lame-legged, he was set to spend his retirement tinkering around his ramshackle house. At least until his ex-partner showed up and dragged him out of retirement in Tularosa. Margaret Cannon of The Globe and Mail said at the time that that book “is so good the slight creaks and groans in the plot deserve to be ignored.”

And he got better. For fans of such outdoorsy gumshoes as James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux or Cork O’Connor, there’s a similar sense of a wild and untamed land on display here, men doing what they got to do, and plenty of poetry of the hard-boiled kind up for grabs.

The twelfth novel in the series, 2008’s Dead or Alive, seemed to be the end of the road for Kerney, but the author didn’t stop writing. Instead, he explored Kerney’s ancestors, tracing the family’s frontier history  back to the 1870s, in the Kerney Family Trilogy. And here’s a surprise — all of Kevin’s ancestors were tough, rugged men.

Then, in 2018, a decade after we’d last seen him, Kevin Kerney returned, in Residue, although it’s been reported that Head Wounds (2020) will be the last in the series. Although in 2023, The Long Ago was published, a spin-off from the Kerney family saga, so never say never.


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

Leave a Reply