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Midnight at the Camposanto Paperback – Apr 3 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (April 3 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1890208582
  • ISBN-13: 978-1890208585
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

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By A Customer on Nov. 4 2003
Format: Hardcover
What a disappointment this book is! What an annoying waste of money! I can only conclude that friends of the author have rallied to plug in the praise found in most other reviews on this site.
I love New Mexico; love Taos. I own a home there. (have elderly relatives there.) I could appreciate lyrical descriptions of the setting in the event of weak characters and a story-line that bores tediously without being interesting. Mari Ulmer does not even give those! Ulmer's efforts at garnering review raves about her descriptive skills FAR out weigh those skills. She strings together a few mundane observations, using an array of trite phrases and wants the reader to believe that's the way it is? --- disappointing!
Mari Ulmer's protagonist is a one-dimensional, vapid creature lacking in deep thought, logic, or the demeanor of a lawyer. ("retired" is no excuse for foolish.) MOF-- all characterizations are so lacking that it appears Ulmer has never studied one page of character development. The protagonist, Christy Garcia y Grant wanders thorugh her days noting incidentals about her own home and her life as if facing a virtual reality "Oh! This Is My Life?" camera while she sadly notes how the calloused Anglos kept her from learning Spanish as a child. --Hmmm. My 4-year-old granddaughter speaks three languages fluently! Yet, this character is --oddly-- able to recall small details from childhood about her grandmother, her family history, and peculiar religious customs.

The plot waddles through various levels of religious mysticism while brushing government secrets, Los Alamos, AIDS, and illogical violence. It lacks cohesive order or satisfying reconciliation. How misleading most of the reviews are! To compare Mari Ulmer to Tony Hillerman is a travesty! All I can surmise is that the author has friends in the right places to even get published. (I'd like a refund.)
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By Kent Braithwaite on Nov. 26 2001
Format: Paperback
Those mystery readers searching for the truly fresh directions our genre will be taking in the future need to search out material being published by the numerous small presses scattered across America today. Mari Ulmer's MIDNIGHT AT THE CAMPOSANTO is a perfect example of the unique voices now appearing in the mystery field. Ms. Ulmer has written a terrific book. It spins a tale as good as any being published by the big houses today, yet it also features elements that would never appear in the books of America's major publishing houses. Her protagonist, Christina Garcia y Grant is an admirable creation, as are Christy's supporting characters. Ms. Ulmer's story reveals a deep and thorough understanding of the mixture of cultures that has occurred in northern New Mexico. Her plot moves swiftly, twisting and turning as her story progresses. Her dialog snaps to life from the printed page. Her characters are fully realized, yet it is her setting and that setting's cultural depth that made MIDNIGHT AT THE CAMPOSANTO such a fulfilling read for me. Ms. Ulmer knows what she is writing about, and she writes as well as anyone working today.
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Format: Hardcover
Since I was ready for a trip back to Taos, I really wanted to like this book. The reviews all look optimistic. Could I have possibly have read a different book? Sorry, but this reviewer is going to break the string. I was hopeful to find some marriage of the richness and charm of Willa Cather's Death Comes to the Archbishop and Song of the Lark; Mabel Luhan Dodge's Edge of Taos Desert: Escape to Reality; the mysticism and local lore of Tony Hillerman's wonderful mysteries; and/or the southwest of Louis L'Amour. [All of which I'd easily recommend if you want more of the locale.] Instead of a lovely visit to the high desert country, we have an irritating protagonist, a hodge podge of ideas that probably could have been used to write an entire series of books and a book that seems like it will never end.
Here is a partial list of irritations (with apologies for the length of this review, my usual style is "short and sweet").
While the story bypasses the fascinating Taos pueblo, it focuses on ancient religion morphing into something (possibly sanctioned by the church?), witchcraft, devilry, government secrets, AIDS, the genome project, as well as the lab at Los Alamos. That none of this comes together neatly is no surprise. The buckets of blood seemed to come out of nowhere, and certainly didn't seem to be either interesting or worthy of mention as a "floor finish".
The unlawyerly demeanor of protagonist Christy Garcia y Grant, La Dona and Iggy. The lawyers I've worked with (for entirely too long) would NEVER behave in such an unprofessional and quite frankly silly manner, chasing about with a lack of thought, a lack of logic, lack of regard for their personal safety as well as others, and a total disregard for ethics.
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Format: Hardcover
Midnight at the Camposanto is, for a British reader, stunningly atmospheric. The other-worldness of the New Mexico setting are unforgettable. For me, the best value was in the sensitive portrayal of the strange mixture of Christianity and much older native religion which has to be unique to this part of the world. While placed firmly in the late 20th century, there is a timelessness in the power of this religion over the individuals in the story that really got under my skin as I read the book. A multi-layered novel - much more than a simple murder mystery. Excellent writing, and a very original voice.
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