Catholic priest Casimir “Fr. Jake” Jakubowski reaches the retirement age of 70, yet wishes to continue his Michigan ministry. As a favor to Santa Fe’s Prelate, the Archbishop of Detroit offers the liberal Fr. Jake a temporary post in Providencia, a New Mexican village on the Rio Grande. A local pastor, the saintly Fr. Jesús Mora, is ill, yet he and most villagers resent the appointment of an outsider to their church of San Isidro―only auto mechanic Armando Herrera and teacher Cynthia Plow befriend Fr. Jake. Within a month, Fr. Mora is murdered; evidence suggests he might have been involved long ago in a satanic Black Mass.
When amateur archaeologist Plow uncovers corpses of Union and Confederate dead at the ruins of a nearby Civil War fort, she also finds a more recent female skeleton. Detective Sonia Mora investigates that death along with her priest uncle’s murder and that of a woman parishioner found dead in a sleazy motel. Tex Houston’s film company, Pentacle Pix, arrives to make a documentary of the fort and village, yet he has bought quitclaim deeds to the land and now owns Providencia. He plans to rebuild the village as a tourist’s horror set for his ghoulish virtual reality B films. Tex promises residents big money, yet they fight the quitclaims: his truck is torched and Fr. Jake’s church set afire in retaliation.
Fr. Mora’s death has set off a chain of deadly discoveries that will engulf Fr. Jake, a sadistic deacon, the parish finance officer, an old curandera woman, the communes of both Pentecostals and anti-government survivalists, and Civil War re-enactors of the 1862 Battle of Glorieta Pass.
Noyer artfully weaves the story of Fr. Casimir 'Jake' Jakubowski, displaced from his comfortable parish in Michigan and thrown into an impoverished New Mexican village. The liberal priest's life becomes a mirage as a politically driven bishop, a dysfunctional pastor, a flimflam Texan filmmaker and a fundamentalist commune collide with the old Spanish ways of rural New Mexico. A brilliantly crafted exposé of a clash of cultures.
Bones of Contention: A Maine Mystery
Hilliard and Harris, 2008
Noyer is a natural story-teller. An artist by training, he has created an amiable character in Father Jake, who helps solve the mystery of a fellow priest against the backdrop of contemporary crisis in the Catholic church, a satanic mass and the reenactment of the Civil War Battle of Glorieta in New Mexico. Noyer knows of what he writes, keeping his readers hoping for another Father Jake mystery before too long.
Ronald Modras, Author
Ignatian Humanism, Loyola Press, 2004
With an artful mesh of page-turning excitement, indigenous folklore, and historical detail, Noyer, author of the A.D. 5th century Getorius and Arcadia Mystery series, serves up another compelling literary adventure with his New Mexico-based thriller, Ghosts of Glorieta.
Lisa Polisar, Author
The Ghost of Mary Prairie
University of New Mexico Press, 2007
A fifth century Nick and Nora crack secret codes, enjoy an impromptu maritime adventure, and hang out with gladiators in their second mystery caper.... Noyer's enthusiastic curiosity is effectively channeled through two attractive protagonists: a smooth narrative with fascinating historical detail.
Kirkus Reviews, The Cybelene Conspiracy, 2005