The Edge of Justice: Antonio Burns Series, Book 2


In this gripping debut novel, Clinton McKinzie introduces us to Special Agent Antonio Burns, whose routine investigation into the accidental climbing death of a young woman turns into a murder chase that takes him to the heights of Wyoming's wild beauty and the depths of its criminal underworld. Burns is an original and complex hero: an experienced climber, a cop implicated in the shooting deaths of three gang-bangers, brother to a recovering drug-addict and convicted murderer. The case points toward some ...

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In this gripping debut novel, Clinton McKinzie introduces us to Special Agent Antonio Burns, whose routine investigation into the accidental climbing death of a young woman turns into a murder chase that takes him to the heights of Wyoming's wild beauty and the depths of its criminal underworld. Burns is an original and complex hero: an experienced climber, a cop implicated in the shooting deaths of three gang-bangers, brother to a recovering drug-addict and convicted murderer. The case points toward some prominent community members, a fact the local law would rather cover up. But Burns can't let it drop. His toughness and integrity take him from the courtroom to a jaw-dropping chase scene, on an armed ascent up the highest alpine wall in the continental United States.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Edge of Justice features an exquisite setup. Searching for respite from an open-and-shut Laramie, Wyoming, rape-and-murder trial, special agent Antonio Burns finds afternoon diversion scaling sheer walls in the nearby Rocky Mountains. When a young woman falls off a cliff and dies, he investigates, at first more from curiosity than from suspicion. Officials quickly conclude that the fatality was just a climbing accident, but Burns's professional (and climbing) expertise makes him disagree. With the help of a sultry local reporter, he sets out to find the truth. This first novel features cliff-hangers, literal and otherwise, to keep you glued to your reading chair until the very last page.
Publishers Weekly
McKinzie, a keen climber, portrays the hero of his debut thriller, Wyoming special agent Antonio Burns, as happiest when he is in the wild, hanging by his fingernails from a sheer rock wall. The problem is, he has to deal with life on level ground: he's in trouble for shooting three drug dealers in self-defense, his wild but cherished brother is in jail and the redneck local law officers he has to deal with are trying to railroad a pair of innocent lowlifes to the chair. In addition, he's looking into the fatal fall off a cliff of a young woman who had been partying with the son of an ambitious DA. McKinzie knows his wild Wyoming, and also how to keep things moving briskly. Burns, who is soon on the track of a rogue climber who likes to surround himself with pretty girls and potheads, takes his share of knocks along the way, and there is a nail-biting if not entirely convincing climax on a mountain in a storm. But as often happens with first novels, it's overplotted: there's simply too much going on at once, and poor Burns gets badly beaten at least once too often to convince a reader that he could even stand up, let alone get up a tough rock face in the dark solo; his jailed brother plays an unexpected and not too believable role at a pivotal moment; and the on-again, off-again romance with a glamorous reporter seems more dutiful than organic. Still, this gets good marks for ringing a change or two on the chase thriller, and we're now promised a prequel, starring the same gutsy hero. (June 4) Forecast: The publisher has pulled out the stops in getting endorsements from a raft of box-office names including Tess Gerritsen, Philip Margolin, Michael Connelly and Robert K. Tanenbaum, but it remains to be seen whether the rather arcane climbing lore will kindle enthusiasm among action-thriller fans. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
First-time novelist McKinzie is a former Colorado deputy district attorney and avid mountain climber. This first-person thriller features Special Agent Antonio Burns of the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigations, who also happens to be an expert climber. Just as the local district attorney is completing the prosecution of a high-profile murder case, Burns is asked to investigate the mountain-climbing death of a young woman. He soon discovers a possible relationship between the two cases. Since much of the action takes place in the mountains, McKinzie includes a great deal of climbing detail. Otherwise, the story is one-dimensional: enemies of Burns are evil, corrupt, or weak, while his friends are loyal and kind. The book resembles a hard-boiled detective story, as the main character is constantly faced with danger and violence. Readers of this genre will probably enjoy the book, depending on whether they are interested in all that information about climbing. The author already has a multibook contract and will continue with this character. Suitable for larger popular collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/02.] Joel W. Tscherne, Cleveland P.L. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
More valleys than peaks in a debut thriller featuring a mountain-climbing cop. Special Agent Antonio (Anton) Burns of Wyoming's Division of Crime Investigation is a self-acknowledged addict. He needs, is hooked on, the adrenaline rush that comes "with all that air beneath your heels." So he's the logical choice for an assignment that takes him to the town of Laramie, to check out the death of a young female climber. And a suspicious death it is. For starters, there's the injury to the back of Kate Dunning's head, an injury she couldn't have sustained during her fall. Besides that, there's the eagerness of the sheriff and a variety of other law-enforcement bigwigs to label accidental a death so obviously not. Anton smells a cover-up, and he's right, of course: it's one that powerful people are fully invested in, bringing Anton a quick harvest of malevolent enemies. It hardly helps that he's fighting a war on two fronts: In the aftermath of an earlier investigation, he's also facing an official hearing into his own behavior. While fending off three hoodlums, he shot and killed them, and, though the claim is thoroughly worthless, certain unkind members of the press have taken to calling him "Quick Draw" and referring to him as a "rogue cop." For reasons Anton ascribes to "politics"-McKinzie leaves the details annoyingly unspecified-he isn't receiving much by way of support from the state's attorney general (his boss), and severe disillusion is setting in. Nevertheless, a job's a job, and despite multiple warnings and several beatings, Anton settles in to solve what needs solving and foil what needs foiling before departing from Laramie bloody but unbowed. Deep-dyed villains borrowed from19th-century melodrama undercut what might have been a promising first effort.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780736697811
  • Publisher: Books on Tape, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/5/2008
  • Series: Antonio Burns
  • Format: MP3
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Ships to U.S.and APO/FPO addresses only.

Read an Excerpt


A dry wind blows hard out of the Medicine Bow Mountains onto the high plateau of the Laramie River, just as it does every fall in the southeast part of the state. It's a steady pressure, as unrelenting as gravity, but also a force that seems to have a mischievous intent. The wind is regularly fed by the curses of the fifty thousand enduring souls who inhabit the high plains and mountains here. On this day its fuel is further charged by the oaths of people who have never before had the opportunity to feel its power. The multitudes of television reporters gathered outside on the courthouse lawn offer up foul maledictions. The wind is blowing their carefully brushed and stiffened hair out of place. Propelled by it, the occasional tumbleweed playfully interrupts their broadcasts as it bounces between the commentators and cameras. The few forlorn Klansmen isolated even amid the crowd across the street curse the wind too. It threatens to blow their pointed hoods right off their heads and reveal their true identities. Worse than that, it raises their robes like women's skirts, causing them to drop their placards and hold their arms straight down at their sides.

On the drive in this morning I'd been struck by just how much the prairie fauna surrounding Laramie is like my maternal grandfather's ranch in Argentina. There's the same sagebrush and chaparral bent by the wind toward the east, as if yearning for the sun to rise each dawn and exposing their backsides' naked roots to the fading night. There are the same surrounding high peaks capped with ice. But the town itself is nothing like my grandfather's nearest village, where idle gauchos squat on crooked, unpaved streets, and children play half-dressed in rags. This Wyoming town is even more exotic. Today Laramie probably appears strange to its longest-surviving residents. Over the past week strangers from across the nation have descended on the town with their cameras and microphones like a buzzing hoard of bright-colored locusts.

Upon entering Laramie, I drive along past the courthouse with the other rubbernecking traffic and feel something on my face that has become unfamiliar--a smile lifting the corners of my lips. It isn't really a happy smile. It's more of a head-shaking what the hell? smirk. The thick torso of my mastiff-mix leans far out the backseat passenger-side window of the ancient Land Cruiser, and he seems to be grinning too. The crowd that's gathered on the sidewalk leans away from the approaching dog's head with his great yellow teeth and ropes of saliva that hang from black lips.

I'm lucky to find a parking spot five blocks from the courthouse despite the extraordinary traffic. There I roll up the windows just enough so the beast can't reach out and cause heart attacks by licking passersby. I dust the animal's dark hair from the white shirt and khaki pants that I wear for this occasion instead of my usual tired jeans, sandals, and untucked flannel shirts. Before walking away from the truck, I pull on a navy sport coat to hide the gun that's clipped to the belt at the back of my pants. I speak softly to the dog as I cinch the tie close around my throat.

"Stay, Oso. Watch the car."

I have never seen anything like the crowd that's swarming on the well-watered lawn outside Albany County's four-story sandstone courthouse. As I wind my way through the masses toward the low steps, I can't stop looking about and feeling that same sardonic turn of my lips. It seems that all the world is here in this small, usually quiet Wyoming city of only twenty-six thousand full-time residents. I have spent time in Laramie twice before: first as a child, more than two decades ago,...

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