Chicano detective Sonny Baca mines the fertile spiritual terrain of the Southwest in his quest for his cousin’s killer
The great-grandson of a legendary lawman and gunfighter, thirty-year-old Sonny Baca hopes he possesses even a tenth of El Bisabuelo’s courage. But instead of cleaning up New Mexico by hunting down dangerous desperadoes, the struggling PI looks for missing persons and deadbeat husbands. The game changes when his cousin Gloria—the first woman Sonny ever loved—is brutally slain. Her corpse is found drained of blood. A zia sun sign, the symbol on the New Mexican flag, is carved on her stomach.
Gloria’s husband, Frank Dominic, a politician making a run for mayor of Albuquerque, has a powerful motive for murder. But Gloria wasn’t the first victim. A year earlier, another woman was slain in the exact same way. Is a serial killer on the loose? Or is this the handiwork of some satanic cult? Feeling his cousin’s spirit crying out for justice, Sonny and his girlfriend, Rita, begin a search that takes them across New Mexico’s polluted South Valley to an environmental compound in the mountains. As Sonny moves closer to the truth, he uncovers a chilling connection between his past and a very real and present evil. Wanted by the FBI, the brujo known as Raven plays mind games and changes shape at will. Will Sonny be able to stop his diabolical plan before the Southwest explodes in a nuclear holocaust?
Zia Summer is a thrilling spiritual journey that doesn’t hesitate to ask the big questions.
Called a founding father of Chicano literature in English, the author of Bless Me, Ultima and Alburquerque tries his hand at detective fiction but continues to shine brightest with his trademark alchemy: blending Spanish, Mexican and Indian cultures to evoke the distinctively fecund spiritual terrain of his part of the Southwest. Here Sonny Baca, a 30-year-old fledgling PI, investigates the murder of his prima, Gloria Dominic, the cousin who many years before had introduced him to love. Gloria's husband is worried most about the effect of the gruesome death (Gloria's body is found drained of blood, with a zia sun sign carved on her stomach) on his mayoral campaign in Albuquerque. Sonny believes Gloria's spirit calls to him for vengeance and pursues the case throughout New Mexico's South Valley, from the cocktail-party circuit of the arts community and the company of monied business developers to an assemblage of witches in an environmentalist commune in the mountains. Although the narrative pace is often bumbling, Anaya blends elements of nuclear waste-management and ancient tradition with considerable credibility and offers a memorable cast of locals. But best here is Sonny's convincing attachment to the land and the traditions that have shaped him.