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Clicking on a book cover will search for the book in the catalog. If it is not part of our collection, you may request it by clicking on the Can't Find It link. An icon indicates if the book is chosen by a panelist as one of the year's best.

Man Corn Murders
By Lou Allin. Five Star. 273 pp. $25.95.
A writer and her much more adventuresome aunt are on a hot vacation in the Southern Utah-Northern Arizona red rock country when they stumble upon a body. What does an investigative reporter do then? The large number of errors make such a distraction that following the story is difficult/impossible. For example “Big Sky country” (note the capitals) is Wyoming not southern Utah, there are no such things as “treacherous z-shaped arroyos” (you can imagine what a roaring gully-washer would do to a Z-shape), and Mesa Verde would hardly have become a “pile of dust” by now if not discovered by pot-hunters more than 100 years ago. []

María of Ágreda: Mystical Lady in Blue
By Marilyn H. Fedewa. University of New Mexico Press. 355 pp. Index. $39.95.

News of María of Ágreda's exceptional attributes spread beyond her cloistered convent in seventeenth-century Ágreda (Spain. In America, reports emerged that she had miraculously appeared to Jumano Native Americans--a feat corroborated by witnesses in Spain, Texas, and New Mexico, where she is honored today as the legendary "Lady in Blue." María was lauded in Spain as one of the most influential women in its history, and in the United States as an inspiring pioneer, and Fedewa has assembled a stunning biography of this remarkable woman.
Masters of Contemporary Indian Jewelry
By Nancy Schiffer. Schiffer Publishing Ltd.. 256 pp. Index. $50.00.
This book offers dramatic proof that Indian jewelry has reached new heights of excellence. The beautiful work of sixty top artists is presented in 250 pages of lavish photographs. Although all regions of the U.S. are represented, the Southwest clearly dominates the field. Those interested in jewelry and Indian art won’t want to miss this one. []

Me and the Biospheres: a Memoir by the Inventor of Biosphere 2
By John Allen. Synergetic Press. 336 pp. $39.95.

A behind-the-scenes memoir of the development of the most ambitious environmental experiment ever, with the creator of this miniature Earth under glass.
Mexican Jewelry & Metal Art
By Leslie A. Pina. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Pub.. 287 pp. Index. $$89.99.

A beautiful coffee table book illustrating modern Mexican jewelry and other metal art work.
Michael Lundgren: Transfigurations
By Rebecca Solnit, Michael Lundgren. Radius Books. 64 pp. $31.50.
For those of you who think that desert photography begins and ends with colorful Arizona Highways magazine, take a look at Michael Lundgren’s Transfigurations. You’ll see the desert in many moods and times of day, from noon to midnight. His stunning and sometimes puzzling images try and succeed in expanding our awareness. The text by Rebecca Solnit seamlessly expresses the images: “If you come here seeking something particular you may find only it. Or find nothing. But if you come seeking the desert it will be given to you in time, if you take care not to get so irrevocably lost that you too become bones out here, but lost enough to find what you did not know you were looking for.” In a section called “Skylighting,” William Jenkins explains that “these pictures serve to define the boundaries of desert experience.” The book is short but intense, and well worth your visit. The title, "Michael Lundgren, Transfigurations," may be arty but it's also confusing, for most readers will think of it as "Transfigurations" by Michael Lundgren. We missed a related 2007 book by Mark Klett (Saguaros, Radius Books, Santa Fe). With its thoughtful text by Greg McNamee, Saguaros too brings us indelible images to chew and words to mull. After reading Transfigurations and Saguaros, you may find more power and insight in a black and white world at least part of the time. Michael Berman is part of this group, too, and in 2006 we reviewed and raved about his photos in Charles Bowden’s Inferno; see Bowden's Trinity (2009, reviewed elsewhere on the SWBOY list) for more of Berman's intense photos. And hidden among the internet offerings of you’ll find two stunning and beautiful treasures by Richard Laugharn: 21 Visits to the Sykes Crater Saguaro (2007) and Following Desert Plants (2008). These originals, along with inviting color offerings by greats such as Jack Dykinga (for example, Images: Jack Dykinga’s Grand Canyon, 2008), indicate the pulse of Southwest desert photography is healthier than ever. []

Model Interstate Water Compact
By Jerome C. Muys, Marilyn C. O'Leary, George William Sherk. University of New Mexico Press. 528 pp. Index. Sponsored by the Utton Transboundary Resources Center, University of New Mexico School of Law. $75.00.
Not specific to the Southwest, this important volume is the product of a multi-year study and two national conferences held by the Utton Center at the University of New Mexico. The introduction notes that there are at least 26 interstate water agreements, most of them in the arid West. The book provides, in eleven parts with such titles as “Interstate Water Apportionments”, a formal approach to interstate water agreements. Each proposed segment is followed by detailed commentary. Not easy reading, of course, but a very important book concerning the future of our limited water resources. []

Mojave Desert, The: Ecosystem Processes and Sustainability
By Robert H. Webb. University of Nevada Press. 481 pp. Index. $65.00.
The Mojave Desert is not only beautiful but fascinating. Behind the beauty are complex processes of climate, geology, biology, and ecology that are still being explained. This volume provides 19 chapters by experts who ask the questions and dig for answers that will help us better understand and appreciate this desert region. All of the chapters are interesting, but especially inviting are ones on global climate change, resources and sustainability, desert root systems, and restoration. It is required and invigorating reading for anyone studying the natural history – or natural future -- of the Mojave. []

Essays by 38 scientists about key issues in Mojave Desert ecology and land management.
Mormon Convert, Mormon Defector: a Scottish Immigrant in the American West, 1848-1861
By Polly Aird. Arthur H. Clark Co.. 320 pp. Index. $39.95.

Chronicles the grueling journey of Mormon Scottish immigrants braving the transcontinental journey to join their brethren in the valley of the Great Salt Lake, and the travails they endured to reach there.
Murder for Hire: My Life as the Country's Most Successful Undercover Agent
By , Jack Ballentine. Thomas Dunne Books. 300 pp. Index. $25.95.

The author describes his life as an undercover operative for the Phoenix Police Department.
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