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"It was a sight that Jamaica hopes to never see again: a man tied to a cross, his loincloth catching in the wind as he plummeted down into the Rio Grande Gorge to his death. That is, if he wasn't dead already." "Ever since she learned about Los Penitentes, a secret, ancient religious group that reenacts Jesus' crucifixion and practices excessive penance, Jamaica Wild's been fascinated, putting together a book of sketchings and research. And this death in the gorge seems to fit with everything she has learned. But a haunted old priest warns ...
"It was a sight that Jamaica hopes to never see again: a man tied to a cross, his loincloth catching in the wind as he plummeted down into the Rio Grande Gorge to his death. That is, if he wasn't dead already." "Ever since she learned about Los Penitentes, a secret, ancient religious group that reenacts Jesus' crucifixion and practices excessive penance, Jamaica Wild's been fascinated, putting together a book of sketchings and research. And this death in the gorge seems to fit with everything she has learned. But a haunted old priest warns Jamaica to put down her pencil." Her superiors wouldn't mind if she kept her nose out of things, either. But too many strange things are happening for Jamaica to stay uninvolved. For one, her medicine teacher, Momma Anna, has given her a cryptic assignment. And when someone makes an attempt on her life, Jamaica sets out on a fact-finding mission that could very well send her, like the crucified man, over the edge.
Posted April 6, 2011
"Wild Penance" is set against the backdrop of the native lands of New Mexico and features Bureau of Land Management Agent Jamaica Wild. Since this is a prequel to the previous three books in the WILD series, it's the perfect introduction for readers new to the series with interesting insight into Jamaica's backstory for returning readers. At the center of "Wild Penance" is a story about an ancient religious group called Los Penitentes. Some of the events in the book are based on factual accounts of the real Los Penitentes sect and their mysterious rituals.
Jamaica Wild goes for a run before work and witnesses a man tied to a cross being pushed from the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge down into the ravine below. The story then flashes back several months to Jamaica's meeting with a priest, Father Ignacio Medina, to learn more about the secretive Los Penitentes. When Jamaica speaks to Father Medina, he expresses concerns that religious artifacts belonging to Los Penitentes are being stolen. Jamaica leaves the meeting with more questions than answers.
The narrative then returns to the present and the murder victim in the ravine. In addition to the murder investigation, there has been evidence of trespassers on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property. Jamaica is asked to team up with forest service ranger Kerry Reed to find out who is trespassing and why. Jamaica is a loner, but there is instant camaraderie, respect, and attraction between her and Kerry when they meet. In one scene they throw food at each other, and never has a food-fight been so romantic!
While this is a murder mystery, it is also a beautiful novel about the southwest and the customs of the pueblo people. One of Jamaica's friends is Anna Santana who has declared herself to be Jamaica's medicine teacher. As Jamaica learns the ways of the Pueblo from "Momma Anna", the reader is also introduced to the customs of the Pueblo culture. While it takes Jamaica a while to understand Anna's advice, it's Anna who helps Jamaica make peace with something in her past that has always haunted her.
It is the book's wonderful setting and the complex character of Jamaica that make "Wild Penance" and the other books in this series unique. Jamaica loves nature and animals. We hear about extreme action she has taken to protect wildlife, and there is a powerful scene that shows us her love for her horse. Jamaica lives in a remote cabin with electricity, but no running water, no television, and no phone service of any kind. She has people in her life that are important to her like Anna and also her boss Ray, but Jamaica finds it hard to let down her guard and trust others. Jamaica's life is in danger at one point in the story, but she has nobody she feels close enough to that she can move in with even temporarily. However, with the discovery she makes with Anna's help and her growing friendship with Kerry, the book's ending is full of hope for the future.
The glimpse into Jamaica's life as a Resource Protection Agent will interest those who enjoy author Nevada Barr or Jessica Speart, while the stories of the Pueblo culture will appeal to readers of Tony Hillerman or Margaret Coel.
This review was originally written for the "Season for Romance" E-Zine. The book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.
Posted March 21, 2011
What an incredible read. You will love it! If you enjoy great page turning suspense and mystery. Plus! You love the southwest,and New Mexico history this book is for you! I just loved it and can't wait to dive into Wild Sorrow. Sandi Ault is just superb in weaving a great mystery and georgous setting in New Mexico. You will be hooked after the first chapter. What are you waiting for go! Go and order it right now!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 21, 2010
Wild Penance is the first book of the series I read. I enjoyed it so much that I just ordered another one. I felt like I knew the characters personally and like I was there, in New Mexico. It was hard to put the book down. The story developed steadily and fast and with unexpected twists - not one boring page. There was a little bit of everything: romance, mystery, history and scenery. I can't wait to read more about Jamaica Wild.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 10, 2009
Bureau of Land Management Resource Protection Agent Jamaica Wild works out of the Taos, New Mexico filed office. She runs along fences to make sure there are no holes in them; if they contain rips usually means someone is doing something illegal. One morning while running Jamaica stares up at the Rio Grande Gorge bridge only to see activity where there should be none. Two men drops a cross with a man tied to it into the river below; the current takes the cross with its rider.
Jamaica believes someone wants to disguise a murder by making it look as if the ancient Christian sect Los Penitentes, who reenact Jesus' crucifixion as part of their extreme penance, committed the act. She learns the corpse is Father Ignatius who warned her to stop asking questions about Los Penitentes who react rather swiftly and ugly to inquiries and loathe outsiders asking questions about them. Three men break into her car to steal a book Jamaica is writing about this sect. A car follows her and her house is broken into. However, the trauma she faces is raised when someone tries to kill her at a lingerie show. Not one to idly sit back, Jamaica with an unexpected ally goes after her tormentor with help from the late Father Ignatius.
Fans are going to love the latest Wild thriller as we are thoroughly drawn into the world of a little known sub-culture that receives support from the masses. The sect conducts much of its practices un secret because the Catholic Church would prefer they vanish as their modern day penance is considered extreme by most people. The protagonist is a strong woman who may receive a lot of punishment, but obstinately refuses to back down as she remains dedicated and committed although the danger mounts. Jamaica is terrific, but Wild Penance is owned by Los Penitentes.
Posted November 25, 2010
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Posted April 12, 2011
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Posted November 2, 2011
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