In Other wOrds

Pasatiempo - - In Other Words -

Eye of the Moun­tain God: A Thriller by Penny Rudolph, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 304 pages Penny Rudolph’s Eye of the Moun­tain God is as en­ter­tain­ing as it is hokey. Rudolph’s novel takes place in New Mex­ico, the state to which 35-year-old East Coaster Megan Mon­toya has re­cently moved with her autis­tic daugh­ter, Lizzie (“She had found this house in Santa Ynez, far enough from Santa Fe to be af­ford­able,” Rudolph writes.). One day Lizzie opens her news­pa­per — bless her, she’s one of the dwin­dling few who are still will­ing to pay for print — and finds sev­eral ar­row­heads carved from emer­alds. The cov­eted relics have ap­par­ently been hid­den there by her paper car­rier, who has since gone missing.

Soon peo­ple are break­ing into Megan’s house in search of the booty, which she has hid­den in the coiled hose she uses to wa­ter her gar­den. In his book, Al­bu­querque res­i­dent Rudolph crams in a take-back­our-land Na­tivist con­spir­acy; a love story that pro­pels Megan in the di­rec­tion of a hunky sci­en­tist; a his­tor­i­cal yarn con­cern­ing Euro­pean set­tlers and South­west­ern tribes; a se­nior cit­i­zen who boasts that she was a “damn good” pros­ti­tute in the 1940s; and an in­tra-fa­mil­ial bond be­tween two peo­ple who can see into the fu­ture.

The book’s di­a­logue is of­ten stilted — “Such scenes of­fer an op­por­tu­nity to be­come this gen­er­a­tion’s Dorothea Lange,” one char­ac­ter says to Megan — but Rudolph spins a story with just enough sus­pense. If the novel’s plot­lines tend to wan­der, there’s still plenty here to please most mys­tery read­ers.

— Kevin Can­field

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