Book Review: Zia Summer, Book #1 in the Sonny Baca Mystery Quartet by Rudolfo Anaya

by DerdriuMarriner

Zia Summer, Book #1 in the Sonny Baca Mystery Quartet by Rudolfo Anaya, concerns mandatory nuclear waste disposal and ritual animal and people killings around and in Albuquerque.

Zia summers grow crops under rain-clouded, sun-filled skies

Zia Summer acts as the Sonny Baca Mystery Quartet debut novel by New Mexico’s living treasure, Rudolfo Alfonso Anaya (born October 30, 1937). The emeritus Pastura village-born professor of Anglo and Chicano literatures at the University of New Mexico belongs among writers who successfully juggle:
• anthologies;
• essays;
• folklore, legends, myths;
• histories;
• novels;
• plays, poems; and
• short stories.

The detective novel in question confirms the Chicano literature co-founder’s expertise in writing mysteries as well. It deals with crimes of ritual animal and people killings in the midst of:
• challenges between Anglo, Chicano, and Pueblo cultural legacies;
• clashes between Aztec- and Zia-worshipping cultists and Land of Enchantment-concerned governmental agencies; and
• controversies over nuclear waste carriers, disposal, leaks, and sites.

Satellite image of Albuquerque, with the Rio Grande on left/west, in central New Mexico

Imagery by NASA and/or the US Geological Survey. Processed by Terra Prints Inc.
Imagery by NASA and/or the US Geological Survey. Processed by Terra Prints Inc.

Zia summers honor sun symbols, not sacrificial blood-letting

 

Anglo and Chicano ancestries, legal and revolutionary commitments, modern and traditional expressions, and modest and upscale societies exert influences upon Albuquerque, Bernalillo County’s governmental seat and New Mexico’s mile-high city at 5,312 feet (1,619.09 meters). They find super-brutal convergences in draining blood from:

  • human bodies in honor of Aztec sun-feeding traditions and etching onto navels the four-direction, four-element, four-ray, four-season sun symbol of Zia Pueblo traditions; and
  • slaughtered cattle bodies and removing reproductive parts.

Private investigator Sonny Baca gets paid $20.00 when maternal relative Tía Delfina’s (Aunt Dolphin) daughter Gloria Dominguez becomes the second victim of blood-drained, lilac-scented body-carving in Albuquerque’s pricey Northeast Heights after the previous year’s same-aged Dorothy Glass, architect’s widow and Sims property resident. 

 

Zia Sun Symbol: red circle with four sets of four rays pointing in four directions

Highly esteemed Zia Sun Symbol is featured on the Flag of New Mexico.
Highly esteemed Zia Sun Symbol is featured on the Flag of New Mexico.

Zia summers intensify four ages, tasks, time divisions

 

Sonny has suspects to clear or collar with great-grandfather Elfego’s .45-caliber single-action Colt. Delfina intends upon Frank Dominic paying, as:

  • Gloria’s decade-long skirt-chasing husband;
  • mayoral candidate using Gloria's descent from Don Juan Domínguez de Mendoza (1631 – 1685?), Don Juan de Oñate y Salazar (1550 – June 3, 1626), and Diego de Vargas Zapata y Luján Ponce de León y Contreras’ (1643 – 1704); and
  • $2,000,000 life insurance beneficiary.

Means join opportunity for:

  • Ashley, Frank’s lover and Sandia developer Jerry Anderson’s daughter;
  • Leroy Brown, fired five-year-tenured gardener;
  • Marisa Martinez, four-year mayor;
  • Akira Morino, high-tech entrepreneurial father of Gloria’s unborn child;
  • Antony Pájaro, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant opponent;
  • Raven, livestock-poaching Sandia commune leader near La Cueva; and
  • Veronica Worthy, fired housekeeper. 

 

Indigenous Zia tribe, renowned for pottery and Sun Symbol, are centered on Zia Pueblo in northwestern New Mexico.

Zia reservation formation near San Ysidro, Sandoval County, northwestern New Mexico
Zia reservation formation near San Ysidro, Sandoval County, northwestern New Mexico

Zia summers jostle life back into 100+-year-old cottonwoods

 

Gloria’s death and Zia suns keep overlapping with:

  • Black Mountain, Elida, La Cueva, Picacho, Quemado, Ramah, Tierra Amarilla, Tucumcari, Wagon Mound, White Sands equinox/solstice sacrifices;
  • downtown, La Joya, northwest and Four Hills, Piñon Ridge, Sandia East Estates, uptown divisions;
  • Estancia, north, south valley developments;
  • high-level plutonium waste-loaded trucking, Los Alamos to Carlsbad; and
  • Kirtland Air Force Base mysteries.

Gloria’s $100,000 from Akira and University of New Mexico Russian specialist Peter Dubronsky’s widow, English-, French-, German-, Polish-, Russian-speaking Tamara, lead Sonny through mazes to the perpetrator. So Zia Summer makes culturally enriching, educationally entertaining adventures possible, thanks to:

  • Rudolfo Anaya, author;
  • Marion Ettlinger, portrait photographer;
  • Giorgetta Bell McRee, book designer;
  • Andrew Newman, jacket designer/illustrator; and
  • Warner Books, publisher. 

 

Zia Summer by Rudolfo Anaya ~ available via Amazon

Struggling in the footsteps of his legendary lawman grandfather, small-time private investigator Sonny Baca seeks out the truth about his cousin's bizarre murder.
Rudolfo Anaya's Sonny Baca series

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

 

Albuquerque and Sandia Mountains at sunset

panorama of Albuquerque
panorama of Albuquerque

Sources Consulted

 

Anaya, Rudolfo. 1995. Zia Summer. New York, NY: Warner Books, Inc. 

 

Moonrise over White Sands National Monument: iconic white sand dunes of gypsum crystals is featured in Rudolfo Anaya's "Zia Summers."

White Sands National Monument, south central New Mexico
White Sands National Monument, south central New Mexico
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Birds Of The Zia Pueblo: photo by Chuck Sabatino ~ available via AllPosters

Birds Of The Zia Pueblo

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved.
Updated: 04/07/2015, DerdriuMarriner
 
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