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