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