Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wild Penance-Sandi Ault

Wild Penance
Sandi Ault
Berkley, Feb 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780425232323

Bureau of Land Management Resource Protection Agent Jamaica Wild works out of the Taos, New Mexico filed office. She runs along fences to make sure there are no holes in them; if they contain rips usually means someone is doing something illegal. One morning while running Jamaica stares up at the Rio Grande Gorge bridge only to see activity where there should be none. Two men drops a cross with a man tied to it into the river below; the current takes the cross with its rider.

Jamaica believes someone wants to disguise a murder by making it look as if the ancient Christian sect Los Penitentes, who reenact Jesus' crucifixion as part of their extreme penance, committed the act. She learns the corpse is Father Ignatius who warned her to stop asking questions about Los Penitentes who react rather swiftly and ugly to inquiries and loathe outsiders asking questions about them. Three men break into her car to steal a book Jamaica is writing about this sect. A car follows her and her house is broken into. However, the trauma she faces is raised when someone tries to kill her at a lingerie show. Not one to idly sit back, Jamaica with an unexpected ally goes after her tormentor with help from the late Father Ignatius.

Fans are going to love the latest Wild thriller as we are thoroughly drawn into the world of a little known sub-culture that receives support from the masses. The sect conducts much of its practices un secret because the Catholic Church would prefer they vanish as their modern day penance is considered extreme by most people. The protagonist is a strong woman who may receive a lot of punishment, but obstinately refuses to back down as she remains dedicated and committed although the danger mounts. Jamaica is terrific, but Wild Penance is owned by Los Penitentes.

Harriet Klausner