Eye of the Mountain God
Review: Single mother and professional photographer Megan Montoya, newly settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico, finds herself drawn into a maelstrom of mystery when she discovers five ancient artifacts wrapped in her morning newspaper in Eye of the Mountain God, a non-series thriller by Penny Rudolph.
Several days after her house is broken in to — one of five in the neighborhood, the only similarity being all the homeowners were newspaper subscribers, the paper boy now having vanished — she finds the newspaper she had used to sweep cobwebs from the top of her cabinets still there, hidden from view. Opening it, she discovers five pieces of carved stone. Not sure what they are, she takes them to a local jeweler, who says they are emeralds and quite valuable ones at that. In a quandary as to what to do next, she holds on to them — in part because they may represent financial freedom for her and her disabled daughter. But it isn't long before the stones existence are traced back to Megan by some very determined people intent on taking them for themselves … by whatever means necessary.
There are several aspects about Eye of the Mountain God that work in its favor, but also one serious plot point that doesn't.
On the positive side are the nicely developed characters. Megan, in particular, is defined by her interactions with her daughter and two very different people she meets on separate occasions while taking photographs. The author also brings a photographer's eye to the descriptions given for the settings within the story. It's mesmerizing at times. The plot is well thought out and has a number of interesting facets to it, though for a thriller it's a bit slow in places and the suspenseful scenes late in the book are not as crisply written as they could have been.
All well and good — except that the opening premise is simply not credible. It is inconceivable that anyone of good moral character, and most especially a mother, would knowingly and willfully withhold material evidence from a police investigation into the presumed kidnapping of a young boy. Megan is smart enough to realize that there's a connection between the newspaper boy vanishing, the valuable emeralds she finds in her paper, and her house being broken into … and yet she holds onto the gems, depriving the authorities of what would be a valuable clue. And, given how the plot plays out, it becomes increasingly alarming that she continues to retain them. Granted, there wouldn't be much of a story to tell had Megan turned over the emeralds in the first chapter, but surely the author could have come up with a more creative way of dealing with this. It's all the more disappointing since the rest of the book really rather good.
Acknowledgment: St. Martin's Press provided a copy of Eye of the Mountain God for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), September 2007
ISBN-13: 9781590583463; ISBN-10: 1590583469
Location(s) referenced in Eye of the Mountain God: Albuquerque, New Mexico
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Eye of the Mountain God by Penny Rudolph
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: April 2010
List Price: $25.99