The best mysteries of the American Southwest: with respect for the culture and land

G.G. Collins Author Of Anasazi Medium
By G.G. Collins

Who am I?

The American Southwest never gets old. Exploring any of the Ancestral Pueblo sites is like walking back in time. Anasazi Medium takes the reader there. I love the land and the culture that has brought us to the present. My character, Santa Fe reporter Rachel Blackstone, reflects this. She is sarcastic at times, can be funny, and has her poignant moments as she copes with a “talent” she never wanted. In Anasazi Medium, I concocted a mixture of mystery, Hopi traditions and a journalist’s eye to entertain and inform. What resulted is a climate mystery in the most water-challenged state in the U.S. and a high adventure read. 

I wrote...

Anasazi Medium

By G.G. Collins,

Book cover of Anasazi Medium

What is my book about?

Ancient peoples enlighten contemporary humankind in a mystery as old as time. Rachel Blackstone, a Santa Fe reporter, is recruited by the spirit world to prevent a cataclysm: the end of the Fourth World of the Hopi. As earthquakes rumble and a supervolcano threatens to blow, it becomes imperative she discovers the root of all evil. Can she stop the greedy men intent on plundering Mother Earth and killing those who would stop them? The survival of an unaware civilization depends on Rachel getting it right. 

The books I picked & why

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The Blessing Way: A Leaphorn & Chee Novel

By Tony Hillerman,

Book cover of The Blessing Way: A Leaphorn & Chee Novel

Why this book?

Who of us hasn’t heard of Tony Hillerman’s experience with an agent’s reply of “get rid of all that Indian stuff?” Advice that Hillerman rightly ignored. He went on to write some of the best, and most successful, mysteries located in the Southwest. Even better, his stories included skinwalkers, ghosts, and witchcraft drawn from Navajo rituals and beliefs. In The Blessing Way (A Leaphorn & Chee Novel) spirituality added richness to his storytelling as he introduces his characters, the Navajo, and their culture. His deep love of the region came through with every word. In my stories, I’ve done the same thing by sharing Hopi traditions with respect and admiration.

The Pot Thief Who Studied the Woman at Otowi Crossing

By J. Michael Orenduff,

Book cover of The Pot Thief Who Studied the Woman at Otowi Crossing

Why this book?

The Pot Thief Who Studied the Woman at Otowi Crossing (A Pot Thief Murder Mystery) is a fun, quick read. Our pot dealer (not the kind you smoke) owns a shop in Albuquerque's Old Town. "Hubie" as he is called, digs for pottery on public lands to sell in his shop. I enjoyed his university meetings and the hierarchy at the University of New Mexico. When things got heated among the profs, he dove into a book until the collegiate clashing was over. Fond of margaritas, and who isn't, I got a kick out of how much mystery solving he could do at this favorite bar. My characters share that trait by stopping by The Shed in Santa Fe with regularity.

Brujo: Seduced by Evil

By Jann Arrington Wolcott,

Book cover of Brujo: Seduced by Evil

Why this book?

Jann Arrington Wolcott’s Brujo: Seduced by Evil features Lee Lindsay as the intrepid reporter. The action takes place in Santa Fe, New Mexico. After a co-worker is killed in a suspicious car crash, Lee is sent to complete his assignment. The man she meets in a remote village casts a spell over her. Flashbacks to a former life begin to haunt her as the brujo (male witch) stalks her and her family. As someone who knows Santa Fe well, I liked how Wolcott used Santa Fe locations and local color to enhance the narrative. Lee’s friendship with the artist who knew something about brujos was the best part for me; a true friend who risked it all.

Parrot Blues: A Neil Hamel Mystery

By Judith Van Gieson,

Book cover of Parrot Blues: A Neil Hamel Mystery

Why this book?

Divorce lawyer Neil Hamel always seems to do more PI work than law. In Parrot Blues (A Neil Hamel Mystery) by Judith Van Gieson, she tries to locate a missing woman—and an indigo parrot. Oddly, the husband seems more concerned about the bird than his wife, who may be on her way out of the marriage anyway. But with the parrot as the only witness, it’s a tough case to crack. There’s plenty of New Mexico history and vistas to satisfy, but I found the information about birds and smuggling to be eye-opening. Her relationship with the “Kid” adds to Neil’s character. She’s her own woman, doing things her way. That alone gained my respect.

Ill Wind

By Nevada Barr,

Book cover of Ill Wind

Why this book?

Nevada Barr’s mysteries are so colorful I feel like I’m there with Anna Pigeon, solving the mystery and hiking the Anasazi ruins. Barr’s love of the land, wherever her stories take me, creates a real sense of place. In Barr’s Ill Wind, Anna has transferred to Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Barr brings authenticity to this series because she had a career as a park ranger. In a new park, Anna is missing her cat and lamenting the party life of her younger co-workers when a colleague is killed. One of the things I like about Anna is that she is so well written. Because of this, I feel I know her.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Southwestern United States, New Mexico, and the Navajo?

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