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 advances 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, drought-stricken Tularosa Basin.
An expansive, epic tale like Philipp Meyer’s The Son, and in the wonderful storyteller vein of Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove, McGarrity’s Backlands showcases his keen eye for historical detail, awe-inspiring scenery, and the bitter harshness of life on the last vestiges of the twentieth-century frontier West.
About the Author
MICHAEL MCGARRITY is the New York Times bestselling author of Hard Country, the Anthony Award-nominated Tularosa, and eleven other bestselling Kevin Kerney crime novels. A former deputy sheriff for Santa Fe County, he also served as an instructor at the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy and as an investigator for the New Mexico public defender’s office. He lives in Santa Fe with his wife, Emily Beth.
What People are Saying About This
Praise for Backlands
“McGarrity writes about the landscape of the American Southwest with loving detail and rough-hewn eloquence, but he is equally good here with the human stories and the historical backdrop.…[it] claims our emotions much in the manner of Ivan Doig’s similarly heartfelt historical fiction.”—Booklist
“McGarrity knows New Mexico, and it shows with his authentic descriptions from transcendent beauty to parched ugliness. The Roaring Twenties, the dust bowl years, the Great Depression, and the years of World War II are conveyed with truth.”—Genrefluent
Further praise for Michael McGarrity and for Hard Country
“A master storyteller. Michael McGarrity has his finger on the pulse of the Old West.”—Margaret Coel, Author of Buffalo Bill’s Dead Now
“A stunning saga of the Old West.…Saddle up with McGarrity and let him take you back.”— New York Times Bestselling Author Linda Fairstein
“A ‘Western’ in the sense that Lonesome Dove was a Western. It transcends the genre…an unforgettable book. I loved it.” —Douglas Preston, Coauthor of Gideon’s Corpse
“Michael McGarrity really gets—and loves—the Southwest: its colors, its rhythms, its blessings, its cussedness.…Savor this one.” —Hampton Sides, Bestselling Author of Hellhound on His Trail
“An epic Western in the classic sense…a true Western.”—Bookreporter
“A spectacular journey.”—Max Evans, Author of One Eyed Sky
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The second book in the series was every bit as good as the first. His characters are multidimensional and endearing. The historical side of his writing has been very interesting to me as an Arizonan. Will continue with the last book and I know Ill be sad when Im through to stop hearing about the lives of these people who have become friends.
I read (and re-read) "Hard Country" and loved that book. When I saw there was a sequel, I was very excited to read "Backlands" and was not disappointed.
3.5 stars Did I enjoy this book: Yes! I thought Mr. McGarrity did an especially nice job of developing his characters in the book. I understand it’s the second in a series; I haven’t read the first book, but had no problem picking up the story line. This story begins in the 1920s, survives the Great Depression, and ends with the Second World War: McGarrity covers a lot of ground in five hundred pages. That’s probably why the book seemed to drag on so long for me. I thought a huge conflict was brewing about 40% through the book when the main character’s trustee told him, “You’ll be a very well-off young man . . . I’ve leveraged the stock by buying it on margin . . .” Knowing that the Great Depression was right around the corner, I was bracing for the worst. But the book just breezed through the Depression with no single climax or resolution that I could sink my teeth into. I did see a huge difference in Patrick’s character from the beginning to the end. I didn’t understand why he changed… maybe just old age. Even in a series, I like a book to contain all the elements that a novel should. I think Mr. McGarrity might be saving some of his big moments for the last book. Would I recommend it: Knowing that it’s long and what it’s about, if it still sounds interesting to you, then yes. There’s a huge audience for people who like this kind of old West, historical literature. As reviewed by Belinda at Every Free Chance Books. Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Emma Kerney is dying of heart disease and is determined to insure that her son, Matthew, eight years old at the beginning of this novel, will be financially secure. She’s also determined that her ex-husband, Patrick, a drinker and all-around nasty individual, will be able to touch very little of what she’s leaving for Matthew. While she has a sudden upswing in her health, she accomplishes all she set out to do and even has some amicable moments with Patrick. But life is never that simple, and eventually Matthew is left with only his father to raise him. At first it all goes well as Patrick tries to train Matthew in riding and caring for horses, Matthew’s great love. Matthew’s ultimate goal, however, is to finish high school and attend college, a dream Patrick mocks! As time passes, we read the remainder of the story of Matthew, Patrick, the New Mexican Spanish residents, including one who eventually marries Patrick for a short time. This is the story of survival in the lean years of the early twenties and thirties, when these New Mexico residents were faced with drought and the Great Crash that financially destroyed people in this community as well as throughout America. Matthew, however, evolves into one determined, hard-working man. As his relationship with his father deteriorates, his luck in obtaining work with the CCC of Roosevelt’s administration and other choices force him into becoming the owner and caretaker of the ranch his father used to run. Without giving away the many exciting, challenging scenes in this novel, suffice to say it’s a great novel of the West and a story of the Darwinian struggle to persist and succeed at living and working in a beautiful but tough land beloved by so many – the Great American West! Very nicely crafted, Michael McGarrity!
Wonderful reading and a great story. Loved Hard Country and this followup is a pleasure to read. Thank you, loved it. Kat