5.0 out of 5 stars Unique Voice
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...
Published on Nov. 25 2001 by Kent Braithwaite
2.0 out of 5 stars Hodge Podge or Collage?
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...
Published on Nov. 6 2001 by Mamalinde
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1.0 out of 5 stars A horridly disappointing book!,
By A Customer
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.)
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique Voice,
This review is from: Midnight at the Camposanto (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.
2.0 out of 5 stars Hodge Podge or Collage?,
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.
Christy Garcia y Grant comes from a family of Spanish speaking locals, and studies law. But never bothers to learn her native tongue (or correct English, actually). Although she immerses herself with ancient religious customs.
The elderly La Dona shooting "across the prow" at the driver of the car she is riding in? And then RUNNING from the accident and going home? Yeah, right.
Missed opportunities of setting. Taos is a enchanting place. The magic of the high country desert, the mesas and the mountains, the clear air and rich landscape and are only given a cursory glance as this crazy bunch dashes about willy-nilly.
The protagonist is simply irritating, with her numerous exclamations, her bossy and unsympathetic approach to others - she is either disoriented or delusional much of the time. The guests in her bed and breakfast receive little in the way of charm or hospitality, the "amusing tidbits" and "story time" seem nothing less than insulting.
Finally, did anyone else notice that the issue causing all the murder and mayhem was simply lost in the final wrap up? Or, perhaps I simply missed something in my race to finish this bizarre book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Mari comments on Midnight at the Camposanto,
Midnight at the Camposanto is first in a series that feature a Taos the tourist never sees and that revolves around the church and secular year. The exciting mystery features Christina Garcia y Grant, who, like the author is a burned out attorney, running a B&B to support her writing. She and a tough elderly mentor, a young attorney and a retired doctor try to free a Hermano charged with a murder that may have been committed by Satanists or Los Alamos scientists. Great reviews in Publisher's Weekly, Harriet Klausner, Today's Librarian, The Snooper, About.com < mysterybooks.about.com > Boston Globe and every other reviewer who's read it. About.com said that "The rest of this tale unfolds not only in the beautifully depicted local of Taos, but during the rich celebrations of ancient Spanish culture...." Klausner ended with, "...if the subsequent tales are half as colorful, mystical and alive as this debut is, fans will have a treat for years to come."
5.0 out of 5 stars Midnight At The Camposanto,
If you have any interest at all in the Land of Enchantment, NewMexico, and especially the Taos area, here is a mystery with a giantsized shot of ethnic insight that will knock your socks off! Not since Anaya have we had such a look into the Spanish culture. However, this comes from an Anglo's experience of interaction with that culture, an interaction available as a real part of life in that area.
Ulmer not only instructs and clarifies the mysteries of the Catholic Church's relationship with the Brotherhood of Los Hermanos, but writes a superbly well constructed mystery including death, danger, and totally developed characters.
The book begins with a murder at midnight in the graveyard (camposanto) during the celebration of the Easter season...[there is] a woman who has left the legal profession to return to her home, open a bed and breakfast, and take up writing full time. (Yes, this really can happen.) The heroine and her band of locals undergo not only physical risks, but psychological and social risks as well...the Santa Fe and Los Alamos areas also get in on the act.
This is the first of a series of books the author intends to write, all constructed around religious holidays. Already, I can't wait for the next one! END
5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting beautiful mystery,
The Catholic Church sanctions Los Hermanos, the Brotherhood of Our Lord Jesus, as a lay religious society in many New Mexico communities. Their practices have roots in the Mexican community and are typically misunderstood by Anglos, who see the rituals as being too mystical to accept. However, many locals such as semi-retired lawyer Christina Garcia y Grant (owner of a bed and breakfast) revere the group.
On Good Friday, the police arrest a Hermano for killing another Hermano, his cousin. Christy knows the cousin could never commit such an evil act especially on a holy day. Christy, her former mentor, a public defender, and a retired physician try to prove that Pat Salazaar is innocent of the murder of Eusebio. Their investigation follows many threads with someone trying to kill Christy before she and her cohorts uncover the pattern.
Though the Land of Enchantment has had many tourists, few if any have seen this side of New Mexico that is eloquently and reverently described by Mari Ulmer. The well-crafted mystery includes many viable suspects from all walks of life and leaves readers wondering who did it. The lead character and her partners are fully developed, gaining audience support from the beginning of the story line. MIDNIGHT AT THE CAMPOSANTO is the first novel in the "Taos Festival Mysteries" and if the subsequent tales are half as colorful, mystical, and alive as this debut is, fans will have a treat for years to come.
4.0 out of 5 stars A hauntingly atmospheric mystery,
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Medianoche en el Camposanto,
Este libro tiene muchas intrigas y se desarrola en un communidad de hable hispana cerca de Taos, Neuvo Mexico - Un Taos bien diferente al que ven los turista. Un miembro de una sociedad religiosa ha sido asesinado el viernes santo... Diferentes temas envuelven misteriosos secreto en las facilidades de investigaciones nucleares en Los Alasmo, incendios de una violenta secto satanica... El libro es rico en detalles sobre costumbres ...el libro se lee como un poema de prosa...una cancion de amo de una culture antigua e invisible.
4.0 out of 5 stars midnight at the camposanto,
I am a reader of mysteries and thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's a beautiful blend of plots and subplots involving old religious rituals, murder, lawyers, investigators, minorities, romance, and friendships. It kept me guessing. The narrative is lively, yet elegant. I'll be giving the book as a gift to friends and relatives.
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Midnight at the Camposanto by Mari Privette Ulmer (Paperback - April 3 2001)
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