Christina Garcia y Grant, the heroine of Mari Ulmer's debut mystery Midnight at the Camposanto, is a multifaceted woman. She is formerly a lawyer, presently the proprietress of a charming bed and breakfast, and a hopeful author. She's also a young widow with her eye on a retired doctor who came to Christy's B&B on a sentimental journey (he and his late wife were frequent visitors before her death) and stayed on. |
Christy's second, relatively bloodless, adventure begins with the disappearance of a young woman who is a gallery assistant and the discovery of a body during the height of the annual Taos Fiesta, which figures prominently in the story. While Ulmer's gifts at describing the magnificent New Mexico landscape, the multiethnic milieu, and the cultures and norms of Anglo, Spanish, and Mexican society are impressive, the pacing, drama, and suspense aren't yet quite as well developed. The mystery is less the centerpiece than the side dish of this nonetheless appetizing entrée. Fans of Tony Hillerman and other writers who've made this territory their own will be intrigued.
Source: Jane Adams, Amazon.com.
Enjoy Taos as it celebrates its sacred and secular festivals. It’s murder. Ole!
The warm portrait of New Mexico’s Hispanic community recalls Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me Ultima (0-446-60025-3) or John Nichol’s Milagro Beanfield War (0-345-41016-5).
The Taos Festival mysteries continue with Las Fiestas! Christina Garcia y Grant’s lovely old hacienda, converted from her grandmother’s gracious abode to a B&B so that lawyer Christy can pursue a writing career, is bursting with guests. Not all of them are welcome. Meanwhile, the Friday night La Fiestacita summons la gente, the people. Though they have come to party, the presence of La Doña Sebastiana, Death, is a reminder that life is only worth living if Death is close at hand. “It’s the edge, the risk, that gives color.”
La Doña Sebastiana does summon someone to her death cart before the night is over, only the partygoers don’t know it. Newcomer Evelyn Bottoms, a suave Englishman, is unaware that his gallery El Museo has been burglarized and Bobby Mascarenas killed. Missing is Cindy, Bobby’s co-employee and the date of lawyer Ignacio Baca, who spends La Fiestacita looking vainly for her. The next morning reveals the grim story.
Christy, moved by Iggy’s grief and willing to help her new friend, Dr. Bottoms, queries her primo, Police Chief Garcia, and learns that her cousin has little to go on. Aided by her more-or-less permanent boarder (and suitor) Mac McCloud, a retired surgeon, and her old friend La Doña Abogado, New Mexico’s first woman lawyer, Christy queries the local arts community and learns that someone is stealing priceless art from local churches. Is there a link between the robberies and the murder? And there seem to be a lot of newcomers to town…