Wild Penance (Wild Mystery Series #4)

( 7 )


"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 ...

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Wild Penance (Wild Mystery Series #4)

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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 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.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Lisa Martincik
The fourth volume in Ault's Wild Mysteries, but the first chronologically, Wild Penance propels Jamaica Wild into a mystery while she makes the acquaintance of characters already familiar to readers of the series. Hiking early one morning near the Rio Grande, Jamaica witnesses a crucified body being dumped from a bridge. Her involvement should end with her statement to the police, but then strangers steal a sketchbook from her car, and she's nearly killed doing a favor for a friend. Her recent and coincidental interest in Los Penitentes, an ancient, persecuted religious offshoot, seems increasingly relevant. As she deals with a trespass problem for her job at the Bureau of Land Management, the disparate events in Jamaica's life seem to converge, and newly made friends may provide the key to her survival. Wild Penance provides a fascinating, if fictionalized, view into the flagellant order of Los Penitentes, along with Ault's usual examination of the culture and nature of New Mexico. Wild makes a compelling protagonist, stubborn but likable and inquisitive enough to believably propel the story through some heavy exposition. Established readers should enjoy witnessing the beginnings of her romance with Kerry Reed and her relationships with other characters and places, even as the book proves very accessible to new readers. All the threads—Jamaica's work assignment, her fascination with Los Penitentes, the bridge incident, and one of her friendships—tie together a little too neatly, but it's not enough to prevent this book from being a brisk, fun, and even informative read. Reviewer: Lisa Martincik
Publishers Weekly
When Jamaica Wild, a Bureau of Land Management agent in Taos, N.M., sees a body on a cross tossed off the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge at the start of Ault's chilling but uneven fourth Wild mystery (after 2009's Wild Sorrow), it appears to be the work of the Penitentes, a religious sect that practices penance through re-enactments of Christ's suffering. Several months earlier, Jamaica spoke about the sect with Fr. Ignacio Medina, to whom she'd shown her sketchbook devoted to the Penitentes, which later is mysteriously stolen. In one unlikely scene, a set of stage lights falls on a lingerie model in a local charity fashion show. The circumstances suggest the culprit intended to kill Jamaica, who was filling in for another model. Forest ranger Kerry Reed lends romantic interest, while medicine woman Momma Anna Santana helps Jamaica grow spiritually. Disturbing discoveries about the secretive Penitentes' past provide the cowgirl sleuth with her strangest challenge to date. (Feb.)
Library Journal
In her fourth Southwestern adventure (after Wild Sorrow, Wild Inferno, and Wild Indigo), Bureau of Land Management agent Jamaica Wild sets out to piece together a fascinating puzzle that revolves around a secret religious sect known as Los Penitentes, but her research turns into a hunt for a killer when she sees a body on a cross tossed off a bridge over the Rio Grande Gorge. Neither medicine woman Momma Anna, her spiritual teacher, nor Father Medina can shed light on the crucified victim. VERDICT Ault's love of the outdoors and her respect for Native American culture are evident in her vivid descriptions of New Mexico's culture, people, and landscape. Nevada Barr fans and mystery aficionados still mourning the late Tony Hillerman will snap this one up as well as other titles in Ault's Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning series. Enthusiastically recommended. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 10/1/09.]—Melody Ballard, Pima Cty. P.L., AZ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425232323
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/2/2010
  • Series: Wild Mystery Series , #4
  • Pages: 297
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Sandi Ault a former journalist and newspaper editor, lives in Lyons, Colorado, with her husband, wolf and cat. She teaches writing workshops and classes. She is also a volunteer firefighter and a Colorado Resource/Fire Information officer for wildfires.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 6, 2011

    Wild and Wonderful Mystery

    "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.

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  • Posted March 21, 2011

    Southwest Mystery at its best!

    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!

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  • Posted October 21, 2010

    not one boring page in this book

    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.

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  • Posted December 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    ans are going to love the latest Wild thriller

    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.

    Harriet Klausner

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    Posted November 25, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2011

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