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Mining Sacred Ground wins Bronze Medal - review

MWSA Review

Peter Romero--a Marine veteran, former military policeman, and disgraced tribal policeman for the Cochiti pueblo--is an unlikely and reluctant hero in this murder mystery set in the world of the Arizona desert. When Romero's cousin is murdered, no one seems interested in pursuing justice except Romero and an odd old Apache, Tag Taza. Bad things keep coming from all sides: meth-dealing biker gangs, assaults, arrests by the local police, a sniper, pot thieves, and a disgruntled wife. At one point, Taza says "I look for trouble and there you are."

Like in Tony Hillerman's novels set on the Navaho reservation, the reader is immersed in the way of life and belief systems of the pueblos and the Apache. Soon Romero's present day becomes populated by sightings of Coyote, the trickster, as well as visions of his dead cousin and other ghosts. Rather than leading our protagonist safely through trouble, these send him into more danger and disconnect him further from anything normal until the reader wonders if modern day troubles can be confronted and defeated using spirits of the past or will the mortal clay of Peter Romero be destroyed.

David E. Knop has written a fast-paced, gritty novel of a spirit warrior's journey to find a killer so his cousin's ghost can finally rest on sacred ground.