McGarrity writes fine mysteries, and this is one of them. Like his previous book, Under Cover Of Law, this is a confection -- this time out, it's a Big Case in which what starts out to be a routine arson investigation ramifies into a Colossal Criminal Conspiracy. It's good, clean, well-written fun.

One of the charms of Tularosa, McGarrity's wonderful first novel, is that the mysteries weren't colossal. McGarrity has a great sense of place and procedure -- he used to be a New Mexico cop, he seems to have great contacts -- but of late his plots have been growing and growing. If your detective works in Washington or Geneva, sure, it makes sense to walk those corridors of power. The point of being in New Mexico, it seems to me, is that it gives you space to work the case.

Do editors push for big plots? V. I. Warshawski is always just coming off a small case where she nailed a dishonest employee for dummy invoices or such. I felt the same way about her; I'd be happy to hear more about these mundane little bread-and-butter cases even if they don't always involve senators, helicopters, and gunplay.