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[whitespace] Imitating Reality

Clues to the candidate's life abound in her novel 'Until We Meet Again'

By John Yewell

MCGUIRE LIKES TO WORK life's kinks out in her novels, where she can reinvent herself and the messy world around her. Her novelistic alter ego is an assistant district attorney for "Santa Rita" County (located on Monterey Bay), Kathryn "Kate" Mackay.

In her latest novel, Until We Meet Again, Mackay, a single mom, says she moved to Santa Rita "to escape an ugly entanglement"--sounding like McGuire, the soon-to-be single mom in 1986. When Mackay's boss and mentor Hal Benton dies in office of an apparent heart attack, the Board of Supervisors calls her into chambers for a secret meeting. The body is still warm , but no matter: the supes throw the Brown Act out the window and political caution to the wind and appoints Mackay DA on a 3-to-2 vote (the same vote by which Ron Ruiz was appointed, coincidentally).

Benton's chief deputy, Neal McCaskill, like the real-life Kate Canlis, is disappointed at not being appointed and vows to run against Mackay.

This wasn't the first time a Santa Rita DA has died in office, McGuire writes. The last time it happened the public defender was appointed to replace him--a nod to both Ruiz, who was a defense attorney, and McGuire's second husband, Jim Lang, who ran for DA as a defense attorney.

The bad guy in the novel turns out to be the head of the county health department, Dr. Robert Simmons (borrowing initials and sonority from McGuire's real-life husband, Capitola finance officer Richard Standridge).

As it turns out (don't worry, the plot is too transparent to ruin), Simmons kills Benton and makes it look like an accident when Benton gets too close to a scheme by Simmons to coverup for another doctor accused of raping poor Latina clients whose relatives are vulnerable to blackmail because of their illegal immigration status.

The brilliant legal mind of Kate Mackay is too slow, though, to catch the connection between medication being administered by her new lover, Simmons, and her rapidly declining health. Simmons wants her out of the way too.

Both Mackay and McGuire are from the Midwest: Mackay from Kansas and McGuire from Ohio. Local geography is full of where'd-she-get-that-idea place names, like Mt. Cabrillo.

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From the January 26-February 2, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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