Signet, Feb 2003, 5.99, 272 pp.
Archivist Claire Reynier works at the Center for Southwest Research at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. One day Isabel Santos informs Claire that she tripped over a loose brick on the floor but when she investigated it she found a wooden cross with a note hidden in it. Isabel made a copy of the document and shows it to Claire who believes it was the last note written by a Jewish mystic before he was killed in the Mexican Inquisition.
The document should be placed somewhere safe but when Claire tries to convince Isabel to give it to the university, she tells the archivist she has to think about it. The very next day Isabel is murdered in her home and the document is missing but the cross is found On a hunch, Claire asks the police to dig around the area where the cross was buried and they unearth a skeleton over four centuries old. The police think Isabel was murdered in a robbery gone bad, but Claire thinks the modern day homicide, the document, and the skeleton are all linked together and she intends to prove it or die trying.
The protagonist is an independent thinker who does not allow herself to be sidetracked when she thinks she is right. She is a woman of the new millennium one to be admired and emulated. Judith Van Gieson tells a creative and fascinating story intermingling the past with the present and educating the reader in a period not widely studied. The who-done-it is fascinating but it is the mystery of the past that holds the reader's attention.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner