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Zia Summer by Rudolfo Anaya
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Zia Summer (1995)

by Rudolfo Anaya

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
3.5 really. It'd be higher, but it seems almost like a serial - wherein we learn some of the same things about the history of the area where private investigator Sonny Baca lives and works over and over again. Of course iteration is important, and of course Sonny goes through several things over and over while fighting the first appearance of the man who is, apparently, going to be his nemesis (the forces, maybe, that will be). I know everyone knows Bless Me, Ultima, but I'm wondering how many people have read Rudolfo Anaya's mysteries too. (Please talk to me if you have!) ( )
  SuziSteffen | Feb 20, 2018 |
This gave me some trouble with the southwestern Spanish - realized how little I have retained from high school :) Still, most was understandable from context & the story itself compelling. The mystery is twisted and the resolution satisfactory, but the real story is about culture & the main character learning about himself. I found it charming and look forward to the next in the series. ( )
  RedQueen | Jan 15, 2018 |
I read the sequel to this book first, since it was due back to the library first, so maybe I'd have enjoyed this book more had I read them in the right order, but I think Rio Grande Fall was a stronger book. Still, this was a good book, and makes me wish I'd moved to Albuquerque when I had the chance. ( )
  JBarringer | Dec 30, 2017 |
Sonny Baca is a private investigator in Alburquerque, specializing in divorce, insurance cases and missing persons. But when Gloria Dominic, wife of a prominent developer and mayoral candidate, is found murdered, her mother hires Sonny to find out who killed Gloria. The police chief seems intent on blaming it on a “bungled burglary,” but Sonny recognizes the sign of the sun at the murder scene and knows that the zia symbol frequently marks the work of brujas (evil witches).

This is a very atmospheric murder mystery, full of the magical realism that goes with ghost stories and folk tales. But the plot has a fair amount of very real and gritty violence, perpetrated by flesh-and-blood humans, not paranormal entities.

Anaya is best known for his poetic coming-of-age story, Bless Me, Ultima, and this is his first turn at gritty mystery writing. The poetry still comes through, however, especially in the ways he describes the landscape, and various characters’ relationship with the land. I particularly loved Don Eliseo and his cronies, and the ways they helped (or hindered) Sonny’s investigation.

I did think that Anaya went a little overboard with the brujas and mysticism, however. I felt that some of the scenes focusing on this aspect of the mystery actually detracted from the pace of the novel and the story arc.

Still, it’s a satisfying murder mystery, and I’d read more of the series. ( )
  BookConcierge | Aug 5, 2016 |
The New Mexico Anaya writes about is both heart-achingly familiar (I grew up there until I was 29 but now live in DC) and so very alien: Anaya's Sonny Baca and I are roughly the same age if I go by copyright publishing date; we both love New Mexico; and we both have many of the same attitudes toward "Californicators" and others that moved in and changed the New Mexican landscape so much.

Where we differ: I'm an Anglo woman; Sonny is Chicano. I grew up in the Northeast Heights; Sonny lives in the North Valley. Sonny is far, far more connected to the land, history, and culture than I ever was, and after reading Zia Summer I am even more homesick for my homeland. But, on the other hand, Sonny is sometimes too macho and womanizing for my tastes--Rita is an amazing woman to put up with him. But--to equivocate too much--his love for his family, his culture, his history made him very attractive. For all of Sonny's outward simplicity, inside he was very complex, and I do find him interesting even if I don't always like him.

There's a beauty to the way Anaya talks about Alburquerque (old spelling) that really defines the spirituality of the people and the land. I'm so very sorry I never took the opportunity to be close to someone like don Elisio, who every time he arrived in a scene I could weep for how homesick he made me for my beautiful Albuquerque. I'm so sorry I took advantage of the beautiful land I lived in and never bothered to learn the geography, the history, the mythology.

Anaya uses a lot of Spanish in this book, and doesn't define it nearly often enough. Fortunately, it's fairly easy to figure out connotation based on context, and there were times that I was delighted to finally see words written that before I had only heard: hijola, chingao, vamos... I never formally took Spanish, so what I know I know only from limited exposure (I am, after all, a Heights girl).

As far as the actual story goes, there were times I thought Sonny was dumb, but accepted much of it as a way to have the character grow throughout the series. There were times that even the most new agey/spiritual/hippy part of me was like, OK that's a little too far, verging on making this a fantasy book instead of a mystery, but then Anaya would charm me again with another visual of a beautiful sunrise with the Senores y Senoras de la Luz, and I'd forgive him. After all, New Mexico in a lot of ways is a surreal place where so many things are just unexplainable and can just be accepted as a spiritual experience. There's was some preachiness about WIPP, but I reminded myself that this was a very big deal back then--I was just too young to give a caca.

I will definitely read more Anaya--I have at least four other books in my library waiting to be read--and I need to make serious plans to get back home for a visit. I very much want to drive around the North Valley with a new eye and appreciate what I took for granted before. ( )
  leesalogic | Feb 23, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0446518433, Hardcover)

Struggling in the footsteps of his legendary lawman grandfather, small-time private investigator Sonny Baca seeks out the truth about his cousin's bizarre murder. By the author of Bless Me, Ultima. 50,000 first printing. $50,000 ad/promo. Tour.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:24 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In Albuquerque, Chicano PI Sonny Baca, who normally pursues absentee fathers, goes after the killers of a former girlfriend whose blood was drained while she was still alive, a probe that takes him through the many cultures of the Southwest. By the author of Bless Me, Ultima.… (more)

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