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The Blue Corn Murders [Audio Cassette]

Nancy Pickard , Agnes Herrmann
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1999 Jenny Cain Mysteries
Kernels of Truth....

When Eugenia Potter stumbles upon some ancient pottery shards on her ranch, she feels a profound connection with the past.  And a deep desire to learn more about the relics.  Now, she's heeding the call of her soul--by visiting an archaeological camp amid the magnificent cliff dwellings of Colorado's Mesa Verde.

But strange things are happening at Mesa Verde, from the director's increasing mental confusion to a visitor's grisly death.  Even a Talking Circle--a traditional ritual facilitated by the passing around of an ear of blue corn--doesn't reveal the source of the trouble.  And when a busload of teenagers on a hiking trip disappears without a trace, Mrs. Potter begins some digging... to unearth a cruel scheme, a long-buried secret, and the deadly fruits of a killer's dark hungers.
--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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From Amazon

"When she did reach the cafe, she bought her hot sandwich and took it back outside to her car, so that she could sit there and stare at the landmark and think about the Tony Hillerman mystery she had just read. It was set all around the great rock. As she pondered it, recalling scenes from the book, she was glad to leave it to authors like him to find and solve the murderous mysteries of the great Southwest. She'd had her own brushes with homicidal individuals in the past. That was enough--more than enough for a woman who desired only to be a doting grandmother, a good friend, a competent rancher, a bit of a needlepoint whiz, and a plain country cook." The "great rock" is Shiprock; the Tony Hillerman book in question is probably The Fallen Man; and the woman hoping for a crime-free life is Genia Potter, the memorable character first created by Virginia Rich and then continued after Rich's death by Nancy Pickard. As she did in The 27-Ingredient Chili Con Carne Murders, Pickard uses characters and plot suggestions left by Rich to create a solid, comfortable mystery of the sort usually classified as a "cozy." But even if you're not a cozy lover, you'll probably be enticed by the setting (an archeological camp near the wondrous Mesa Verde National Park, home of the elaborate, mysteriously abandoned Indian villages), by the characters (some tough and interesting women of varying ages, each with her own reasons for visiting the area), the good food served by a feisty cook named Bingo (the cornbread and cream cheese sticks sound particularly succulent), and even the plot--which involves two murders and the apparent disappearance of 16 teenagers from Texas. --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In The 27-Ingredient Chili con Carne Murders Pickard carried forward the Eugenia Potter series created by the late Virginia Rich (The Cooking School Murders, etc.). In this second story based on Rich's notes, Pickard ably blends Native American history into a modern murder mystery. Genia, a 64-year-old Arizona rancher and cook, moves out from the kitchen and into the desert after she finds a pottery shard and inscribed seashell in one of her pastures. Her curiosity piqued, she signs up for a five-day interpretive hike for women at the Medicine Wheel Archaeological Dig in Colorado. What she finds at the camp is discord among her fellow hikers and among the camp's trustees, one of whom is out to fire the camp director. Then a camper from a different group is killed and a group of Texas teenagers goes missing. In a series of ritual Talking Circles, where an ear of blue corn is passed from participant to participant, deadly secrets are revealed. After a young archeologist who shares a secret with Genia and her group falls to her death during an overnight hike, it appears that one among them may be a killer. Keeping a low profile, Genia ferrets out the guilty party. In the process, readers are treated to both Genia's astute observations on human nature and to various theories on the Anasazi's abrupt migration from their southern Colorado pueblos. Mystery Guild alternate selection.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A juicy,tasty and totally satisfying mystery Aug. 5 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
When Eugenia Potter finds pottery remains and carved shells on her ranch just outside Tucson, she decides it is time to learn about the Native Americans who once occupied the land. She packs her favorite snacks and heads to Cortez, Colorado. There, Eugenia joins an archeological camp, hoping that she can fulfill her dream of learning about the previous residents and perhaps even seeing a ruin or two.

However, this is not an idyll trip back to nature. A busload of Texas teenagers suddenly vanish and two attendees are murdered. Eugenia decides it is time to investigate what is going on before someone else, perhaps even herself, is hurt.

THE BLUE CORN MURDERS is an interesting Genia Potter mystery that adds much richness to the main character, originally developed by the late, great Virginia Rich. The story line is fulfilling and the secondary characters provide great depth to this combination archeological-culinary who-done-it, starring one of the top female ama! teur sleuths to ever grace a novel. This reviewer strongly recommends both the Rich and Pickard novels that make up this wonderful series because both writers provide fabulous reading entertainment.

Harriet Klausner
Was this review helpful to you?
4.0 out of 5 stars Archeological "Rich" mystery June 26 1998
Format:Hardcover
When Eugenia Potter picks up some pot shards and carved shells on her ranch near Tucson, Arizona, she decides that she is meant to discover the people who lived there years ago. Remembering a brochure advertising a "Hike Into History" at the Medicine Wheel Archaeological Camp in Cortez, Colorado, she calls and reserves a space on the next class starting in two days. Quickly packing and grabbing a supply of Sweet Dream cookies, she climbs into her car and heads it towards Colorado. When she arrives, she discovers that her hiking class is made up of eight women, all but two of which are definitely on the mature side. Also at the Camp are a group of 16 gifted high school students from a prep school in Texas. When one of the hikers is found dead, then a young archeologist killed in a fall, and the whole 16 students disappear, Genia decides it is time to put her detecting skills to work. In the second of the Eugenia Potter mysteries written by Nancy Pickard and based on the late Virginia Rich's character and notes, the souls of mature women are captured in an archeological rich story.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK Sept. 15 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Nancy Pickard is continuing a series started by Virginia Rich. Ms. Rich has since died. Ms. Pickard has done a great job with this series and I look forward to others in this series by her. Genia is an older woman who lives on a ranch in Arizona. She finds old pottery on her land and joins a woman's hike with an archaeologist to try to learn more about the pottery and where it came from. Many things happen and of course, Genia ends up helping solve murders.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Too much gab, not enough action Dec 30 2002
By Matt
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The mystery here takes quite a bit of the book to set up, that is, unless you count the 'mysterious' pottery as the gist of the book. After an arduously prolonged development of a mystery, the book is nearly over. The only factors it has going for it are an impressive use of vocabulary and it beats starring at a blank wall for entertainment.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A juicy,tasty and totally satisfying mystery Aug. 5 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
When Eugenia Potter finds pottery remains and carved shells on her ranch just outside Tucson, she decides it is time to learn about the Native Americans who once occupied the land. She packs her favorite snacks and heads to Cortez, Colorado. There, Eugenia joins an archeological camp, hoping that she can fulfill her dream of learning about the previous residents and perhaps even seeing a ruin or two.

However, this is not an idyll trip back to nature. A busload of Texas teenagers suddenly vanish and two attendees are murdered. Eugenia decides it is time to investigate what is going on before someone else, perhaps even herself, is hurt.

THE BLUE CORN MURDERS is an interesting Genia Potter mystery that adds much richness to the main character, originally developed by the late, great Virginia Rich. The story line is fulfilling and the secondary characters provide great depth to this combination archeological-culinary who-done-it, starring one of the top female ama! teur sleuths to ever grace a novel. This reviewer strongly recommends both the Rich and Pickard novels that make up this wonderful series because both writers provide fabulous reading entertainment.

Harriet Klausner
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK Sept. 15 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Nancy Pickard is continuing a series started by Virginia Rich. Ms. Rich has since died. Ms. Pickard has done a great job with this series and I look forward to others in this series by her. Genia is an older woman who lives on a ranch in Arizona. She finds old pottery on her land and joins a woman's hike with an archaeologist to try to learn more about the pottery and where it came from. Many things happen and of course, Genia ends up helping solve murders.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ear-of-Corn Chessboard Trails Through Time April 8 2005
By Linda G. Shelnutt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Exuding an Ancient Indian Mystique, the cover art on BLUE CORN MURDERS glows in Southwestern pastels of aqua and gold. A subtle metaphysical aura, similar to Louis Lamour's HAUNTED MESA, permeates the book with a promise to reveal ravens, rain, and secrets of grain. The plot opens with the feel of stories told of long ago and far away, even though the tall grass pasture on Eugenia Potter's Arizona cattle ranch shows simple, sunny serendipity rather than darkening storms or warring winds.

A comical contrast in the private thoughts of Eugenia and her 70-yr-old, manly neighboring rancher warmed my face into a knowing smile. This poor man didn't have a clue. Between-the-lines of her passing thoughts, Genia was aware of this assumption gap, but she was becoming increasingly mesmerized by an archeological discovery. Gracious considerations about helping the poor devil onto her page slipped into the ozone of intriguing antiquities.

To the backdrop of her rancher neighbor scratching his head, yet convinced he knew how to handle cows and women, Genia surged forward into a rash of preparation for a journey to Cortez, Colorado, sensing she would be opening a spiritual door into an unknown but exciting world. I applauded Genia as she quickly discounted concerns about realistic age limitations interfering with her ability to step up to this potentially daunting exercise. As a rancher lady who regularly hefts herself on and off horses to survey her domain, her bones may creak but they accomplish their purpose well enough when turbo-charged by a willful desire to live with grit and adventure.

The plot weaves insidiously through a physically demanding program at The Medicine Wheel Archeological camp in Cortez, building convoluted layers of intrigue laced with metaphysical machinations, from the prickly floor of the prairie to surreal levels of Anasazi lore. Given contrasting styles and backgrounds, women of various types and ages bait each other; and a male camp organizer, coexisting comfortably with females, adds spice to the relationship drama as multiple mysteries are set, matched, and checkmated. Maybe this game-board complexity should be no surprise. An ear of corn, icon of elemental magic, does look somewhat like Nature's chessboard.

The final chapter comes full circle, as fiction does when entering the realm of art. As chapter 37 opens, it seems to be leading Genia into a righteous build-up of rage and rancor; the volcanic tension is aimed toward her bull-headed neighbor, the clueless male who stood beside her in the pasture as the novel opened on page one. Then, surprise! The last 3 sentences stage a perfectly-prosed-release, rare and uncanny in it's quantum-quick, cathartic delight.

BLUE CORN is an engrossing, bewitching read, enriched from the perspective of a seasoned, well-aged female character of wit, wisdom, and wherewithal.

Now that I've written comments on the 3 novels which extended Eugenia Potter's character into Nancy Pickard's authorship, I'll be ready to begin (after addressing piles of other novels recently read) my anticipated drift back in time, into Eugenia's world as it was developed by her creator, Virginia Rich.

After reading the easily available Eugenia Potter offerings by Pickard, I had planned to unearth a copy of the pilot of this series, THE COOKING SCHOOL MURDERS. But, on checking Amazon's stock, I was pleasantly surprised to see that THE NANTUCKET DIET MURDERS was on a "Super Saver No Shipping Special," so I ordered that book (along with 3 additional culinary cozies by other favorite authors). I received the welcome package from Amazon yesterday, via USPS, a week earlier than the projected arrival!

Strolling through Amazon's carnival, where do I go next?

Linda G. Shelnutt
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Archeological "Rich" mystery June 26 1998
By Susan Rose (Snooper@prodigy.net) - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
When Eugenia Potter picks up some pot shards and carved shells on her ranch near Tucson, Arizona, she decides that she is meant to discover the people who lived there years ago. Remembering a brochure advertising a "Hike Into History" at the Medicine Wheel Archaeological Camp in Cortez, Colorado, she calls and reserves a space on the next class starting in two days. Quickly packing and grabbing a supply of Sweet Dream cookies, she climbs into her car and heads it towards Colorado. When she arrives, she discovers that her hiking class is made up of eight women, all but two of which are definitely on the mature side. Also at the Camp are a group of 16 gifted high school students from a prep school in Texas. When one of the hikers is found dead, then a young archeologist killed in a fall, and the whole 16 students disappear, Genia decides it is time to put her detecting skills to work. In the second of the Eugenia Potter mysteries written by Nancy Pickard and based on the late Virginia Rich's character and notes, the souls of mature women are captured in an archeological rich story.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warm and Full of Flavor Jan. 10 2006
By Bobby Underwood - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This warm and enjoyable book is a tad more adventure than mystery, but has much to recommend it. This was the first solo outing of Nancy Pickard's continuation of Virginia Rich's series featuring Eugenia Potter. The two had written letters to each other, having in common husbands who were cattle ranchers. It felt like fate to Nancy Pickard when Mrs. Rich's husband asked his wife's editor if another author could continue the mystery series after her sad passing. Virginia Rich's creation is carried on quite nicely by her admirer, Nancy Pickard, whose own Jenny Cain mystery series is very successful.

Some pottery shards found on Eugenia's ranch give her inspiration to attend the Medicine Wheel Archaeological Camp in Colorado to learn more. It is there the older but lively Euginia will bond with a group of friends and have more adventure than she'd bargained for. There are many secrets at Medicine Wheel, and at least one of them will lead to the murder of a young misguided girl named Gabriella who was an Indian wannabe. A missing group of young tourists driven to a dig and a small shampoo bottle full of LSD will play a part in solving Gabriella's murder, but not before a second one occurs and an even darker secret is discovered.

Though the setting and story may sound sort of dark, The Blue Corn Murders very much has a "cozy" feel and style to it. It is well into the book before anything that would constitute a murder mystery takes place. But the atmosphere created by Nancy Pickard is both warm and enjoyable, making it a fun read. Euginia is likable and the other characters become real as the book progresses. Scenes of passing an ear of blue corn around a Talking Circle in the firelight, and archaeological digs add as much flavor as the food the camp's cook, Bingo, creates for the group. There are tidbits about those Ancients called the Anasazi by the Navajo, but Hisatsenom by the Pueblos, and the ruins of ancient cities now abandoned. It is in these ruins, in a Kiva, designed for community worship, that Gabriella will leave this world for the next, with help from someone unknown.

Those who enjoy a lot of atmosphere and a very likable central character will find both in The Blue Corn Murders. It is an easy read, and as long as you are aware going in that it is more on the cozy side, you will find it very enjoyable. Archaeolohists Corn Bread and Bingo's Chocolate Cornies are just two of the five recipes included in this light mystery with a lot of flavor.
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