McGarrity to speak Thursday

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By Kirsten Laskey

He’s becoming New Mexico’s own John Grisham. As Grisham steadily sends out streams of best-selling legal crime thrillers, Michael McGarrity is popular for his detective series.

His first novel about retired detective Kevin Kearny came out in 1996 and the character has been solving one mystery after another in books published pretty much every year since.

“He’s one of New Mexico’s most famous mystery writers,” said Carol Meine of Mesa Public Library.

There may be millions of mystery/detective novels out there to chose from, but McGarrity’s novels are unique to New Mexico. They are all set in the state, and, according to a library press release, reflect New Mexico’s physical and cultural landscapes.

So how does McGarrity capture this state into his novels? Find out in his upcoming lecture, “Writing the Modern Southwest,” at 7 p.m. Thursday at Mesa Public Library.

The lecture is part of the Authors Speak series.

McGarrity recognizes New Mexico, his home state, in more than just his books. The College of Santa Fe recently established the Hillerman-McGarrity Scholarship as a result of both authors’ contributions to the literary arts.

Contributions to the scholarship total more than $122,000. Additionally, McGarrity is contributing his Authors Speak honorarium to the scholarship fund.

“He’s just a wonderful guy,” Meine said.

Part of McGarrity’s wonder is that although retired Santa Fe Police Chief Kevin Kearny’s mysteries are fictional, the author has had real crimes to solve.

McGarrity worked in criminal justice field in corrections, law enforcement, security and police officer training.

Additionally, as a deputy sheriff for Santa Fe County, he worked as a patrol officer, community relations officer, training and supervisor and lead investigator for the sex crimes unit.

McGarrity has also worked as an instructor at the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy, an investigator and caseworker for the Public Defender’s Office and an investigator for a state government agency.

So McGarrity knows what he is talking about in his books, Meine said.

The appeal of his books is not just McGarrity’s own life experiences but “he really has great characters,” Meine said. “(They’re) very human, very believable.”

Therefore, she predicts that the Authors Speak lecture will have a packed house.

“We got a lot of fans here,” she said.

The newest set of lectures for the Author Speaks series seem to be a success.

“We’ve just had fabulous people and more fabulous people to come,” Meine said.

Up next is a graphic artist and a Native American poet.

In regards to the authors participating in the series, “we’re all over the map here,” Meine said. “I think there’s something for everyone ee it’s a great series, It’s a real pleasure to deal with these authors.”

McGarrity’s lecture is free but people are encouraged to buy his book locally. Otowi Station Science Museum and Bookstore does have his books in stock.