Signet, Feb 2004, 5.99, 272 pp.
Claire, a middle aged librarian works at the Center for Southwest Research at the University of New Mexico. At a poetry reading she arranged, a young woman she met once before offers her a seat and admires her looks. When a belligerent homeless woman bursts into the room, the campus police escort her out and Claire closes the door. The young lady who saved her a seat bolts from the room because she is claustrophobic.
Claire is disturbed when the young woman, who saved her a seat, a street person named Maia, is found dead in the basement, the victim of a heroin overdose. Claire feels connected to Maia and starts researching who she is, a journey that takes her to an Anasazi structure known as Special Rocks and to a commune in Taos. She learns that Maia was running from the man who abused her and Claire is determined that Maia's death will be avenged even though it means putting her own life on the line.
The heroine is a warm caring individual who hates to see a crime go unpunished. She starts a bit on her voyage of discovery because Maia could never willing stay in a room that locks from the outside. She also wonders why the victim was on heroin because she was supposedly clean. Judith Van Gieson weaves very ugly social problems into the main storyline yet still manages to entertain her audience with an absolutely enthralling and believable amateur sleuth novel.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner