A Fernando Lopez Santa Fe Mystery
By James C. Wilson
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A man in a wolf mask bursts into a teepee in the middle of a sacred ritual, a peyote ceremony, and kills Michael Soto, the owner of Sabado Indian Arts on the Santa Fe Plaza. The next morning Detective Fernando Lopez, a member of an old Santa Fe family, receives a complaint from two Zuni that an important tribal object, a carved wooden war god called an ahayu:da, has been stolen from their pueblo. They show him an anonymous letter sent to the Zuni Tribal Council saying that Michael Soto was trying to sell it for fifty thousand dollars. Shortly after they leave, the police dispatcher reports that Michael Soto has been murdered. Establishing what happened and who was present at the peyote ceremony proves difficult. One witness says three men and one woman from Whitewater near Zuni attended the ceremony. Another says it was four men from Whitewater. One witness blames a skinwalker or a werewolf for Michael Sotoís murder. Detective Lopezís investigation exposes the cultural and ethnic fractures in Santa Fe, a city of Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo cultures. The investigation also leads into the dangerous underworld of buying and selling stolen Indian artifacts. Along the way he encounters looters and grave robbers, rich gallery owners who buy and sell priceless tribal objects on the black market, and artisans who produce fake replicas of the objects to sell. The search for answers comes to a startling end in a violent confrontation at a trading post just north of Zuni Pueblo, when the truth is finally revealed. Includes Readers Guide.
Emeritus Professor of English and Journalism at the University of Cincinnati, James C. Wilson lived in Santa Fe during the turbulent 1970s and wrote for the Santa Fe New Mexican and the Santa Fe Reporter. He has lived in Albuquerque since 2012. He is the author of seven previous books, including most recently Weather Reports from the Autism Front: A Fatherís Memoir of his Autistic Son; Santa Fe, City of Refuge: An Improbable Memoir of the Counterculture; and Hiking New Mexicoís Chaco Canyon: The Trails, The Ruins, The History.
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