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By Penny Rudolph

Thomas Dunne Books, April 2010 ($25.99)
ISBN-10: 0312545460
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-54546-8

Reviewed by Katherine Petersen

Megan Montoya has recently moved to New Mexico with her daughter, Lizzie. The raw landscapes and beauty of the desert have drawn the photographer to the southwest, but she doesn't realize she will be pulled into the center of a mystery as well. She finds five emerald arrow heads in her newspaper a few days after her house was ransacked. She learns they are worth millions from a local jeweler and seeks more information about them from Ben, a local archaeologist.

Megan also befriends an old woman, Alma, who lives alone and paints beautiful pictures. The two women become close. Megan doesn't realize that many have an interest in the arrow heads, but mostly, the leader of a rebel group intent on taking over the state of New Mexico for his Mexican people.

Megan has begun taking pictures for Corazon, a hair stylist also intent on getting help for her people. But what Megan doesn't know is that Corazon and Miguel are working together, and Miguel will stop at nothing to recover what he believes is his. When Megan's daughter disappears, she realizes the danger and hopes she will survive.

Penny Rudolph puts together an intriguing plot in this stand-alone mystery. Some of her characters come to life more than others, my favorites being Alma, Ben and Megan's daughter, Lizzie, who has a gift her mother doesn't want to recognize. She can see things and talk to animals. Rudolph brings New Mexico to life, with the desert storms, stark beauty of the rocks and the history of Native American peoples. While a bit outrageous, the plot is believable and the author keeps the reader interested with impending danger, wondering who will triumph in the end. Readers who practice photography or paint will also find this book of interest as Rudolph describes many of Megan's pictures and Alma's paintings. It's a story that explores what one will do for one's people and what one will do for one's family, and at times, it seems nothing is too much for either. I look forward to reading more works by Rudolph in the future.

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