Monday, March 15, 2010

Death of a Saint Maker by Allana Martin

I have to love an author who is skilled enough to make me actually want to visit once again a part of the US I always thought of as desolate, empty and boring! Allana Martin made the Big Bend region come alive, complete with all the intricacies and cultural differences of life on the Texas/Mexico border.

Texana Jones runs a trading post and her husband has a veterinary business not too far from the Mexican border in the Big Bend area of southwest Texas. When Texana crosses the border to attend the dedication of a statue in a small village church, she and the villagers find that the church is locked. Villagers force the door open only to find the brutally murdered body of the itinerant saint maker, the man who had carved the church's new statue, and a neighbor's pit bull standing over the bloody corpse. The dog escapes before the villagers can grasp what has happened and capture the dog. While the villagers want to believe the dog is the culprit since it would lessen likelihood of police intervention, Texana has her doubts. When someone breaks into her trading post and steals her own statue carved by the saint maker, Texana's suspicion that the roaming artist was involved in something more than carving statues and figurines grows. When she joins her husband at the home of a wealthy Mexican landowner who is rumored to be a gun runner, she discovers that this shady character also happens to own a number of the saint maker's wood carvings. She is convinced there is a connection and is determined to find the truth. Death of a Saint Maker was a very satisfying well told story. I may not make Big Bend my next vacation spot, but I will definitely see it in a much different light.

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