“Mariachi Murder: An Andy Veracruz Mystery” by D.R. Ransdell
(Oak Tree Press, $15.95)
The protagonist of this quiet but sinister mystery leads a mariachi group in a successful Mexican restaurant in Southern California. Not particularly comfortable in his own skin, Veracruz has colleagues about whom he is equally unsure – especially his friend and boss, the restaurant’s owner. It all leads to double dealing and, inevitably, to Las Vegas and murder. Ransdell teaches writing at the UA and likes to play in mariachi bands, so there is a lot of detail about the workings of mariachi groups.
“To Elinor: A Romance in Two Voices” compiled and edited by Jane Beaton Bartow
(Self published, $34.95)
Bartow has compiled her father’s World War II letters home to his wife, her mother. There are about 1,000 of them, so this is not a short book. Bartow added some fictional material to fill in what was going on in her mother’s North Dakota life. Well done and informative, it opens a window on mid-20th century life.
“Taking the Tumble” by Eve Dew Crook
(The First Rose Press, $14.99)
An unconventional professor suggests to his class in communications that each of them try out a new persona. Cyn Westland, freshly divorced from her physician husband, is hoping for a fresh start. She picks “Cleopatra.” Mac Price, a successful publisher, tries “Merlin.” In this lighthearted romance, they both get more than they bargained for.
“The Fifteen Houses” by Jeanne Claire Probst
(Outskirts Press, $16.95)
Probst recalls an unhappy, abusive childhood in an unorthodox, communal family setting for herself and her five brothers and sisters. Not surprisingly, it leads to an unhappy marriage.
“Warrior Nations: The United States and Indian Peoples” by Roger L. Nichols
(University of Oklahoma Press, $19.95)
Nichols, an emeritus professor of history and an affiliate faculty member in American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona, has selected eight of the 40 wars fought between American Indian tribes and the U.S. government between 1786 and 1877. They range in location from the Ohio Valley and the Dakotas to Southern Arizona. In a scholarly format but readable prose, he examines their causes and outcomes.
“The Lost Art of House Cleaning” by Jan M. Dougherty
(Outskirts Press, Inc., $19.95)
Green Valley-based professional cleaning maven Dougherty may be a bit over-the-top for those of us who aren’t quite as fastidious as she is, but it is fun to read about how it’s done. Who knew how to dismantle a microwave?
“Sailing the Great Escape – ¡Qué Bárbara!” by Barbara L. Fleming
When Fleming told a Spanish-speaking acquaintance of hers what she and her husband were planning to do – sell their cars, home and personal belongings to buy a boat and sail away – his response was simply, “Qué bárbaro,” (roughly translated, “You’ve got to be kidding,” or, “How awful.”) She loved it and it immediately morphed into the new boat’s name. This detailed account of their experiences, sailing mostly in the Caribbean, is accompanied by a nice set of maps.
“An American History Lesson and a Wake Up Call for America” by Jack B. Walters
(Trafford Publishing, $14.66)
Retired Firestone executive Walters keeps himself posted on current events and notes his opinions and reactions in a series of letters to the editor and brief essays that he publishes from time to time. In this volume, he is particularly worried about the increasing power of Islam and the U.S. debt.
“The Power of Narrative in Environmental Networks” by Raul Lejano, Mrill Ingram and Helen Ingram.
(The MIT Press, $22)
“Mission,” “Vision,” “Narrative,” all old words that have been revived lately to a new popularity. In this interesting book, “narrative,” is examined by a group of social scientists working in the fields of culture, education, human development, geography and policy making. “Stories organize people’s realities,” Helen Ingram writes in an email. One of the blossoming narratives is set in the Arizona-Sonora desert.
“Paths to Freedom” by Alexis Powers
(Liz Leine Publishing, $15)
Powers, who now lives in Oro Valley, interviewed 15 women to produce thumbnail biographies. The women, with whom she studied writing in Southern California, each had to overcome adversity — alcoholism, blindness, dysfunctional families — to achieve professional success, or at least peace of mind.
“The Tailor’s Patchwork” by Jude Michael Connors
(Libbaeus Publishing $8.99)
Well, it’s a complicated process. But Jason Lynch is a tailor who owns a small shop and a huge metaphysical skill. He not only can mend and alter clothing, he can do the same for people. He can remove destructive emotions. He rarely makes mistakes — but when he does ... let Connors tell you about it.