Why I Read It: Set in northern New Mexico – one of my favorite places to read about.
Where I Got It: A review copy from the author (thanks!)
Who I Recommend This To: Those who enjoy cozy mysteries with a lead female set in the desert southwest would find this book satisfying.
Publisher: Self-published (2012)
Length: 376 pages
Series: Book 1 Abigail Romero Mysteries
Abigail Romero is a 30-something single Hispanic female private investigator living in Abiquiu, New Mexico. Much of her work is finding lost items or tracking down people. She also spends a fair amount of time at the Ghost Ranch, a place famous for it’s dinosaur bones and Georgia O’Keefe. A year out from a disastrous ending to an unhealthy relationship, she is not yet ready for another romance. Instead, she is looking forward to wrapping up a few cases and heading to the Catalan region of Spain for a much deserved vacation. All she has to do in between is recover some stolen items from Ghost Ranch and identify the perpetrator, if possible. Of course things start to get tangled when oddly threatening nursery rhymes appear in her email and she hears that her wastrel of a brother is back in the area.
I’ve lived in NM since 1987 and this book definitely captured the beauty of northern NM and a good slice of it’s culture. Abigail is somewhat unusual in that she is not married and in her 30s. But her independence makes her that much more interesting in a culture that usually requires their women to marry and raise kids. If you are going to do anything independent in northern NM, whether male or female, it’s best if you aren’t all fluff. The story starts off with a rattlesnake and a climb along a cliff edge, which gives you an idea of the picturesque and perhaps deadly beauty of the country right from the start. Her next case is at Ghost Ranch, a place I have been to many times myself, where the folks dug up what may be evidence of the Folsom culture, and was subsequently stolen. There’s staff and summer students to interview and track down, other museums and collectors to contact, and finally impersonating a collector herself.
A dash of geology, a touch of archaeology, nearly a cup of geography, and a healthy dose of action and mystery come together is this first novel by Robert Snow. Abigail is very easy to identify with, making her a fun character to ride along with. The book is sprinkled with Spanish words and sayings, and while I had hoped for a little more in this realm (like some northern NM slang), the book is not less for leaving it out. The sparse population of the area is used to affect, and it is very realistic how newcomers are quickly identified as such by the locals.
Occasionally the plot was a little predictable, but the main plot line I did not have figured out until near the end. I liked that the oftentimes deadly weather of sudden storms was used to great affect in the second half of the book. While there were a few editorial things (like somehow editing notes indicating a section should be italicized) made it into the print, there were fewer than a handful. Northern NM is complicated with it’s mix of cultures. In this novel, primarily the Hispanic and Caucasian cultures are explored. I hope the further cultures (Latino, Mestizo, Native American, etc.) of the area are explored in future installments. Overall, a very enjoyable cozy mystery to sink into for a weekend.
What I Liked: Lead female who wears practical shoes; proper use and storage of handgun; in the end, it is good to have friends – meaning Abigail is not portrayed as some wonder woman; exploration of northern NM and southern CO; a bit of Spanish mixed in; noisy cat.
What I Disliked: Occasionally the plot was a little predictable; a few editorial marks made it into the final print.