"The Spirit of Dogie Long"
By J.P.S. Brown (Make a Hand, LLC, $25 paperback; $9.99 Kindle)
By J.P.S. Brown and Enrique M. Azcona (Make a Hand, LLC, $30 hardcover; $25 paperback)
At 82, having heard it most of his professional life, J.P.S. Brown is probably fairly tired of being identified as one of the best kept secrets of contemporary Southwest literature.
But if it's true, it's probably his own fault. Born in 1930, in Nogales into a ranching family, Brown seems always to have considered himself a cowboy who writes, not a writer who cowboys.
You can't get a more convincing bibliography. He has published 13, maybe 15 books. His work includes articles, short stories, memoirs and novels - one of which, "Jim Kane," was made into the movie "Pocket Money." For which he received $65,000, his only Hollywood payoff to date.
He told Leo Banks, a Tucson writer who has kept up with him pretty well, that he wrote his highly acclaimed third novel, "The Forests of the Night" - the story of a rancher in the Mexican Sierra Madre tracking a jaguar - in 30 days. And then, rather than get in touch with his literary agent, he went on a two-week bender in Douglas and Agua Prieta to celebrate with his working buddies. During the course of which he deposited his only copy of the manuscript in a trash can in a poolroom. For "safekeeping," he told Banks. Fortunately, he found it before the garbage pickup.
But publicized or not, J.P.S. Brown is worth looking up. This has been acknowledged with the Will James Society's Big Enough Award and the Lawrence Clark Powell award for Brown's lifetime contribution to Southwest literature. His work is being republished by Make a Hand LLC, a small press in Patagonia, where Brown and his fifth wife live. "Dogie Long" is the touching, first-person story of a foundling, discovered in an abandoned wagon by a swollen river and raised by the hard-knocking cowboys in the ABC outfit. "Serpentine," written with a friend, retells children's recollections of good times on the Mexican border.
By Jerry Sonenblick (Outskirts Press, $13.95)
Retired Tucson lawyer Jerry Sonenblick also has had careers in real estate development and entrepreneurship. His debut novel combines all these activities as a young lawyer struggles with questionable business deals, unscrupulous friends and his own conscience. The novel's cover states, "The lawyer's duty to the public trust and to his client is absolute. Is that too much to ask?"
"The Mosaic Murder"
By Lonni Lees (The Borgo Press/Wildside Press LLC, $14.99)
Maggie Reardon is a Tucson cop. Her personal life is a mess, but professionally she is tops. She takes on the murder of the husband of the owner of the Mosiac Gallery, an art enclave that, in addition to carrying some fine art, does a brisk business in tacky Mexican ceramic figures. Lonni Lees promises that this is the first in series featuring Reardon.
"The Gemini Factor"
By Dr. Philip Fleishman (Self-published, print $14.99; Kindle $2.99)
If you like your mysteries complex and complicated, this could be the one for you. It begins when a lazy nurse switches twin babies in the hospital and continues through the ensuing years dwelling on the inevitability of evil. There is a liberal use of Tucson place names.
"A Legacy of Drowning"
By Therese Handley (Self-published, $10.99)
In this novel, well-written in the best Gothic tradition - filled with romance, ghosts, curses and channeling - readers are introduced to the English Andrews family, prosperous ship owners. The Andrewses have seen their members - men and women - drowned in a variety of watery places. The last victim leaves teenage Molly Andrews an orphan, and she comes to live in the gloomy, rain-soaked, windblown Andrews mansion now belonging to an uncle. It is then and there that the reality of a curse and its backstory emerges.
"Protecting Parker: A Novel"
By Lynne Scott (Self-published, $8.99 paperback; $4.99 e-book)
Protecting 1st Sgt. USAF Parker Cotton is not a simple matter. On a dangerous deployment mission somewhere in the hot desert, her squad suffers three debilitating attacks before they can get to safety. They lose two valuable men. Back home, plagued by nightmares, Cotton is also assailed by a vicious husband, a lawyer in finance, who resents his wife's commitment to the military.
"Billy and the Blue Dress"
By Jennifer Majuta, illustrated by Giulia Castellini (Self-published, $6.99)
A little boy named Billy falls in love with his sister's blue dress. Former flight attendant Majuta wants everyone to understand that that doesn't make him any less a little boy. He still loves firetrucks, trains, rocks and playing in the dirt. Appealing illustrations.
For information on Southern Arizona Authors and to see past editions go to southernarizonaauthors.org online.