Michael McGarrity returns with the second installment of his sweeping, richly authentic "New York Times" bestselling American West trilogy set in the raw, untrammeled New Mexico backlands during the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and World War II.
"Hard Country," the first novel in the Kerney family trilogy and the debut prequel to his national bestselling Kevin Kerney crime novels, was critically acclaimed for its authentic, gritty realism; its sprawling, engrossing story; and its compelling, engaging characters. An instant hit on several national bestseller lists, "Hard Country" continues to attract an overwhelmingly positive response from critics, booksellers, and readers.
"Backlands" continues the story of Patrick Kerney; his ex-wife, Emma; and their young son, Matthew, shortly after the tragic battlefield death of their eldest son, CJ, at the end of World War I. Scarred by the loss of an older brother he idolized, estranged from a father he barely knows, and deeply troubled by the failing health of a mother he adores, eight-year-old Matthew is suddenly and irrevocably forced to set aside his childhood and take on responsibilities far beyond his years. When the world spirals into the Great Depression and drought settles like a plague over the nation, Matt 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."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-05-12
- Reviewer: Staff
McGarrity's hefty middle title is part of the trilogy set in the American West, after Hard Country. Emma Kerney, dying from a bad heart, lives in the frontier town of La Cruces, New Mexico, with her eight-year-old son Matthew during the 1920s. Divorced from her "backlands” rancher husband, Patrick, for spousal rape, she arranges a substantial trust plan administered by the town banker Henry Bowman and lawyer Wallace Claiborne Hale to provide for Matthew after her demise. Patrick (aka "Pat Floyd”) has a checkered past as an inmate at Yuma Prison, though the Arizona territorial governor later grants him a pardon. He also serves with military distinction as a member of Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders, but after Emma dies and leaves Patrick as the sole guardian, he is less successful at establishing strong emotional bonds with Matthew. Headstrong father and son quarrel over whether Matthew should stay to work on the Kerney ranch or leave to continue his high school and college education. Matthew goes on to have an ill-fated romance with Beth Merton—who is stricken with tuberculosis—while the Great Depression leaves him in dire financial straits to gut it out and survive the bad times. By the time the Second World War breaks out, Matthew feels as if he is ready to make several life-altering decisions. McGarrity's narrative is picturesque and enjoyable, and sets the stage for the trilogy's final installment. (May)