Slow Kill Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Slow Kill

Santa Fe Police Chief Kevin Kerney travels to a California ranch looking to buy some prime quarter horse breeding stock; instead, he finds himself the prime suspect in a possible homicide when a guest at the ranch, Clifford Spalding, is found dead. Confronted by a determined cop unwilling to let him off the hook, Kerney decides to conduct his own investigation. As he digs into the victim's background, he learns that Spalding's ex-wife refuses to believe that her son, a soldier killed in Vietnam some thirty years ago, is dead.
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Kerney soon finds himself sharing the woman's doubts. Did Spalding's current wife, a much younger woman, orchestrate his murder with the help of a lover? Did a California cop collude with Spalding to keep his ex-wife from learning the truth about her son?

Slow Kill races from West coast to East coast, as Kerney tries to find the answers to a thirty-year old mystery and extricate himself from a situation that could ruin his career.
The review of this Book prepared by Di Bingham

Dutton, Aug 2004, 23.95, 278 pp.

Santa Fe Police Chief Kevin Kerney flies to Bakersfield, California so that he can buy quarter horse breeding stock at the Double J Ranch near Paso Robles. When fellow guest septuagenarian Clifford Spalding is found dead, San Luis Opiso Sheriff's Department Sergeant Elena Lowery finds it interesting that the victim and the visiting cop have ranches in the Santa Fe area. She believes this is an unlikely coincidence especially when one considers that Clifford's much younger spouse Claudia, could easily know and ride horses on a New Mexico range with Kevin. Other questionable items also surface.

Knowing he is a person of interest and seeing the path the official investigation is going, Kevin makes inquiries into the history of the victim and learns that Clifford's first wife Alice believes that their son did not die in Vietnam three decades ago. Kevin believes her and wonders why the son was hidden from his mother. He seeks a link between then and now. Elena concludes Kevin is innocent; they join ranks as both suspect the current wife and someone else, a local cop most likely, tampered with the victim's medicine, but to prove homicide will be difficult.

The latest Kerney police procedural refreshingly takes him out of New Mexico (and not just California as he also goes east on this investigation), makes Kevin a suspect, and has the less experienced Lowery lead the inquiries. The story line is fast-paced as the current case points towards murder and a tie in to events from thirty years ago. Fans also see Kerney prepare for retirement (hopefully not for a dozen or so more books) as he buys his first breeding stock.

Harriet Klausner

The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner

Chapter Analysis of Slow Kill

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 10%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 40%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 10% Tone of story    -   suspenseful (sophisticated fear) How difficult to spot villain?    -   Difficult, but some clues given Time/era of story:    -   2000+ (Present) What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   60% Special suspect?    -   investigator him/herself Murder of certain profession?    -   "All in the family" murder Misc. Murder Plotlets    -   solving long-past murder    -   Proving innocence of very obvious suspect    -   Big focus on forensic evidence Kind of investigator    -   police procedural, American Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Any non-mystery subplot?    -   searching for missing person Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   police/lawman Age:    -   20's-30's    -   40's-50's Ethnicity/Race    -   White/American


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   California Farm/Ranch?    -   Yes Farm/Ranch:    -   ranch Misc setting    -   fancy mansion

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment Explicit sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references Unusual forms of death    -   poisoning Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   significantly more dialog than descript    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Michael McGarrity Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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