Michael McGarrity returns with the second installment of his sweeping, richly authentic New York Times best-selling American West trilogy set in the raw, untrammeled New Mexico backlands during the Roaring '20s, the Great Depression, and World War II. Hard Country, the first novel in the Kerney family trilogy and the debut prequel to his national best-selling 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 best seller lists, Hard Country continues to attract an overwhelmingly positive response from critics, booksellers, and audiences. 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 20th-century frontier West.
©2014 Michael McGarrity (P)2014 Recorded Books
As always a masterful performance by Mr Guidall. A nice continuation of the family story of the "taming" of the Tullarosa basin and the creep into the modern era. Times and ranching are changing, America is changing, yet the ranch and the basin are somehow left behind clinging to the old ways and the life that they are trying to preserve. Very enjoyable if somewhat sad story of life and living with all the ups and downs that it brings. Nice job of character development as they mature and grow and age.
My only real negative comment is that the story just stopped with so many questions staying unanswered. Maybe there will be a concluding third book. I hope so!
Sure, in a few years. Great story with much redemption.
I think we were meant to like Matt, and I did. He rose above the adversity in his life, especially with his father. Knowing the story of Patrick at that age from the previous books, you got a chance to compare their choices and innate characters. I also liked all three of the women in his life.
Love George. He embodies McGarrity's characters so well. A perfect alchemy.
Without being too precious, I would say that the most memorable "character" in Backlands was the sense of U.S. history in the early 20th Century, and how it changed lives.
Nope. Loved it.
Of course Guidall is a great reader, especially for western stories. I listen to him reading McGarrity's Kevin Kearney mystery series sometimes when I can't find a good new book.
This was a good story, not a mystery but a family history. Kept me interested.
George does an excellent job pulling you into the hard times living of the land. The kerney family persevered through it all and I want for more
My dad always told me if you don't know where you started you will never know how far you've been. Great back story of Mcgarrity's series.
This story was excellent and much, much better than the first book in the trilogy "Hard Country." In my previous review of "Hard Country", I only gave it 3 stars and thought I'd never really care to listen to anymore of his novels.
Lucky for me I decided to give the second novel in the trilogy a try and found it was fabulous. It was great how it centered on the Kerney family. I especially liked the characters of Emma (the mother) and her son Matthew and the complexity of the Kerney family relationships.
I am definitely looking forward to the third book in the series when it comes out in 2016. I am also looking forward to reading his other book series about Santa Fe policeman Kevin Kerney which begins with the book "Tularosa."
George Guidall was a fantastic narrator as usual!
I highly recommend this western story.
I read Hard Country and then Backlands - Now I'm reading the earlier novels (Kevin Kerney series). McGarrity started writing traditional crime novels and in doing so developed his skills. The last two books are by far his best!
These books tell the tale of history, family, the country (New Mexico), ethnic diversity and all that accompanies it and he does it very well.
George Guidall is a great reader for these books too!
Although it starts slow once you get through the first few chapters it picks up nicely and is a great read. The first novel in the series, Hard Country, was really good and a must read to help understand Patrick's character. This novel is mostly about Matt and the character development is excellent. I enjoy novels set around historical events and this novel does a great job.
cook, lawyer, knitter, mom, grandmom
Loved the action across the backdrop of the southwest and as always loved George guidalls narration. Now intend to hear all the series
Slow at first, but the story line is so addicting you can't stop listening.
Why, Hard Country, of course!
Matt returning from the war, and Patrick's' reception.
Probably Beth, so I could warn her not to go swimming in the ocean.
Having grown up in southern New Mexico in the 50s, and 60s, I can attest to the accuracy of McGarrity's description of the landscapes, and personalities of the families. It took a gritty bunch to settle that land, and this is true in both of the first two books in the trilogy.
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