Top critical review
Engrossing, readable, but undistinguished crime story
on October 14, 2003
There are so many police-centered mystery novels flooding the market these days that even the most devoted fans of the genre(s) cannot possibly keep up. Given that murder and mayhem are endlessly popular, competition for readers' attention is keen. In light of the sheer numbers of crime novels that appear annually, it behooves an author to create a work that somehow stands out as uniquely memorable in terms of plot, characters, or literary style. Unfortunately, Michael McGarrity's *Everyone Dies*, while certainly readable, ultimately comes across as just another gore-filled day at the criminologists' office.
McGarrity, who apparently bases his writing efforts on real life experience in the field of criminology, displays a knack for weaving a tale of vengeance and criminal plotting that is clever, and at times even inspired. His criminal investigators unravel the deceptions perpetrated by the villain in sometimes fascinating fashion. Also in his favor is the geographically intriguing Santa Fe, New Mexico, setting for this story.
Overall, however, McGarrity's literary efforts pale in comparison with other, better-established practitioners of the mystery-writing craft. He includes a few riveting descriptive passages depicting place, situation, and mood, but his efforts pale when compared with those of a more gifted writer like James Lee Burke. His protagonist, Kevin Kerney, simply isn't memorable or particularly interesting when compared to others, such as Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch, and his villain, a cartoon-ish lout who calls himself Samuel Green, lacks the psychological depth that someone like Dennis Lehane would likely provide.
There is an excess of gratuitous blood and gore, and the case ultimately is wrapped up in too much of a hurry, almost in "made for tv" fashion. I also found the strong "family values" angle featuring Kerney's pregnant wife and long-long son to be cloying rather than truly touching.
Overall, this is a quick, easy read that will keep most readers turning the pages. Perhaps that's enough. But whereas McGarrity certainly demonstrates some talent for mystery writing in this book, there are so many better writers out there that I would hesitate to recommend this novel to my friends.