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Each new Michael McGarrity novel about New Mexico lawman Kevin Kerney is better than the last. The latest, "Under the Color of Law" (Dutton, $23.95, 273 pages), is an amazing accomplishment that combines two usually disparate crime genres: the police procedural (non-urban variety) and the government-conspiracy thriller. He does it with intelligence and heart-pumping suspense, without skimping on either characterization or local color.  In five previous books, the author has put his thoughtful, honorable hero through enough professional and personal crises to give Job pause. Here, he ups the ante by returning Kerney to his hometown, Santa Fe, as the new chief of police at the precise time that an FBI anti-terrorism team arrives to cover up a local homicide using any means necessary.  Worse yet, their covert activities, which include falsifying evidence, torture and murder, are sanctioned by men at the highest levels of the government. The bad guys (and one spectacularly bad woman) are as arrogant as they are unscrupulous, and they make the mistake of underestimating Kerney's dedication and resourcefulness.  They may have all the spy toys at their disposal--state-of-the-art surveillance devices, cutting-edge weaponry, computer tricks, even helicopters--but Kerney has a tactician's mind, a wife whose years in the military have not been wasted, and loyal, brave friends and co-workers. The ensuing battle to the death, and the events leading up to it, form one of the most chilling and satisfying thrillers of the year. ©DICK LOCHTE, Special to The Times, LA Times
Under the Color of Law (2001) Under the Color of Law was judged one of the best books of 2001 by Deadly Pleasures magazine.  PLUS the glorious cover art found favour Under the Color of Law garnered its place in the Top 10 Bestsellers for 2001 of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association
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