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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.

Dancing with Death: The True Story of a Glamorous Showgirl, Her Wealthy Husband, and a Horrifying Murder
By Shanna Hogan. St. Martin's paperbacks. 342 pp. $7.99.
The author, a true crime reporter, tells the unbelievable story of Marjorie Orbin, a beautiful, talented, charismatic, hardworking woman, married to a wealthy Phoenix art dealer, mother of a much-loved son, and a partner in 10 year seemingly happy marriage, who is serving a life sentence for killing her husband, freezing him, hacking him to bits and dropping him in a garbage bag in the desert. Only as the investigation unfolded did locals learn she had been married six times, previously worked as a stripper, and was having a passionate affair with a workout friend. Clearly researched and crisply written, this book proves once again the truth can be stranger than fiction. []

David and Lee Roy: A Vietnam Story
By David L. Nelson, Randolph B. Schiffer. Texas Tech University Press. 255 pp. $29.95.
If you are old enough to remember his name, a front cover quote by Lt. Col. Oliver North, USMC (Ret.), will start your love-it-or-hate-it juices flowing even before you begin to read about two West Texas boys; one of whom lived to tell their story. []

Day of the Dead
By Stevie Mack, Kitty WIlliams. Gibbs Smith. 128 pp. $19.99.
This colorful, square-format volume is a grabbag, in the very best sense of that term. Colorful, full-page illustrations throughout remind us our southwestern events during this mid-October celebration and its associated folk art, usually including skeletons. []

Death Clouds on Mount Baldy
By Cathy Hufault. Arizona Mountain Publications. 271 pp. $22.95.
Top Pick
Detailed and well-written account of the deaths of Boy Scouts on Mt. Baldy in the Santa Rita mountains south of Tucson more than 50 years ago. Hufault’s brother was one of six scouts on a mid-November overnight hike; three, including her brother, survived the unpredicted blizzard. Hufault’s bibliography lists more than 100 people interviewed, many of whom were directly involved in massive search by air, horseback, snowshoe and ski.
A freak snowstorm trapped Boy Scouts near a mountain summit in 1958, and the massive search for the lost boys riveted southern Arizona for weeks. Five decades later we finally hear the rest of the story as well as untold personal details of this spellbinding tale, now ably written by the sister of one of the boys. This haunting story will touch your heart forever, as it has mine and everyone else who read the headlines that fateful day. This one should go to the top of your reading stack. []

Deep Trails in the Old West: A Frontier Memoir
By Frank Clifford. University of Oklahoma Press. 317 pp. Index. $29.95.
Frank Clifford is just one of the many aliases used by transplanted Englishman John Wightman (aka John Francis "Frank" Wallace) as he drifted from ranch to ranch in New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle in the 1870s and 1880s before settling in Emporia, Kansas, where he dictated this memoir in the early 1940s. Clifford's involvement in the Colfax County War and his acquaintance with Clay Allison, Charlie Siringo, and Billy the Kid will capture the attention of Old West buffs, but the real treasures lie in his recollection of life and customs on the vanished frontier. This unassuming book offers a rare glimpse of the West as it was and the opportunities it afforded men to reinvent themselves. []

Desert Night, Desert Day
By Anthony Fredericks. Rio Chico. $15.95.
Top Pick
This is a fun, rhyming picture book that begins with desert creatures out in the desert moonlight and then moves into a daytime desert story. Each double-page spread displays a brightly-colored illustration of a desert animal, along with brief descriptive rhymes: “Slipping, sliding, watching, gliding – Banded king snake darting, hiding,” is accompanied by a picture of a colorful king snake hiding under a ledge. Each page includes a hidden image of the animal that will be featured on the next page, and a little quail hides on every page. Kids who like the I Spy series will especially enjoy this title. []

Desert Towers: Fat Cat Summits and Kitty Litter Rock
By Steve Bartlett. Sharp End Publishing. 350 pp. $49.95.
Top Pick
"Desert Towers" is a personal, passionate history of rock climbing on the Colorado Plateau, especially the sheer towers with names like Ship Rock, Pixie Stick, Tooth Rock, Fickle Finger and The Oracle. It’s filled with great photographs and first-hand essays about wild climbs and daring climbers, many of them women. You’ll never again see sandstone spires and vertical cliffs as unscalable—imagine Spiderman inching up the side of a red-rock Washington Monument. Delightful, funny and spirited, this is one of the best climbing books ever. []
This remarkable, very large format, book might give some readers an attack of acrophobia with its photos (a few are early black & white) of rock climbers suspended over hundreds of feet of “nothing” or clinging to the faces of rock towers, just specks far above ground. Interspersed among the 500 or so color photographs are 30 essays with titles like “First Ascent of Spider Rock” and “Sundevil Chimney Free”. The majority of these towers are in southern Utah, but a few (perhaps a dozen) dot northern Arizona, and of course western New Mexico’s iconic Shiprock is here. []

Desert Visions and the Making of Phoenix, 1860-2009
By Philip VanderMeer. University of New Mexico Press. 478 pp. Index. $39.95.
Top Pick
Unlike Topsy in "Uncle Tom's Cabin," Phoenix didn't just grow. In this impressive study, ASU history professor VanderMeer examines the politics and economics of city-building in the Salt River Valley, showing how business, political, and cultural leaders first carved out a modern city in the desert and then, after WWII, devised strategies that transformed Phoenix into a sprawling metropolis. By taking the long view, VanderMeer not only identifies the factors that make Phoenix unique, but also draws useful comparisons and crucial distinctions with other urban centers in the West and across the United States. This is essential reading for anyone interested in twentieth-century urban America. []

Diagnosis Death
By Richard Mabry. Abingdon Press. 292 pp. $13.99.
What reviewers often call a “page-turner,” this smoothly written medical thriller is set somewhere in Texas. It's the third in a series by Mabry, a retired M.D., who obviously knows the workings of doctors and hospitals. []
The author is a retired doctor and medical school professor and his knowledge of medical issues and patients is more interesting than the mystery itself. As if completing her residency, being a new widow, being Hispanic in Texas, and starting a new practice in a small town are not challenges enough, Elena has been set up by two different evildoers who want her to fail. It was hard for me to relate to the vindictiveness, the coincidences, the romance, and the religious solutions, but it did keep me turning the pages. []

Dine Tah: My Reservation Days, 1923-1939
By Alwin J. Girdner. Rio Nuevo Publishers. 356 pp. $15.95.
Alwin Girdner’s grandfather, H. A. Holcomb of the Gospel Missionary Union, founded Immanuel Mission in 1924 in a remote area of the Navajo Reservation known as the Sweetwater District. Alwin lived here with his family until he was sixteen, eventually attending the University of Arizona and many years later settling in Albuquerque. This lovely story is full of vignettes about his days on the reservation, and the Native people, while gently weaving in interesting facts of Navajo history. He has consulted relatives’ diaries and filled the book with rare photographs of life on the reservation which are carefully preserved in Northern Arizona’s Cline Library. []

Don't Shoot the Gentile
By James C. Work. University of Oklahoma Press. 145 pp. $19.95.
In the mid-1960s, Work set off from Colorado with his freshly minted master's degree to teach English, Journalism, and whatever else was needed at the College of Southern Utah in Cedar City. As the saying goes, much hilarity ensued. In this wry and warm-hearted memoir, he recalls the small triumphs and challenges of his first job, somehow made more memorable by the realization that he was the token gentile in an overwhelmingly Mormon town. Readers expecting insights into LDS religion and belief may come away disappointed. The real reward here is Work's portrait of a small, parochial world where friendship transcends religous and cultural divides and where community trumps everything. []

Double Prey
By Steven F. Havill. Poisoned Pen Press. 306 pp. $14.95.
Fictional Posadas County New Mexico seems quite real in Havill’s on-going series, of which this is #17. Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman (she replaced her long-time boss Bill Gastner a few novels ago) has a full life; too full, sometimes, with growing boys and a professional spouse. And then there are the events and mysteries of her job that include the bones of a man and an animal in a den or small cave in the wall of an arroyo, only discovered because it is the scene of the death of a young neighbor in an ATV "accident". Havill is an expert in writing police procedurals, and he’s also an expert when it comes to firearms, so you know he gets the details right. []

Dreaming in English
By Laura Fitzgerald. NAL Trade. 418 pp. $15.00.
Set, partially in Las Vegas and then in Tucson, this tale of romance is not dependent on setting. The narrator, Iranian Tamila Soroush, immigrates to the U.S. in search of a husband so she will not be deported in three months when her tourist visa becomes invalid. She finds Ike, or rather he finds her, and, with a few misadventures, it looks like they’ll live happily ever after.

Drug Lord: The Life and Death of a Mexican Kingpin: A True Story
By Terrence E. Poppa. Cinco Puntos Press. 346 pp. Index. $16.95.
In his preface, writer Charles Bowden recalls paying fifty dollars in the 1990s for a used copy of this mesmerizing biography of border drug lord Pablo Acosta. Readers of this affordable reissue (it has previously been reprinted in both Spanish and English) will understand why. Two decades later, it is still one of the most readable and revelatory books on drug operations along the U.S.-Mexico border. In addition to Bowden's preface, the third edition includes a new introduction and epilogue in which the author, a former reporter for the El Paso Herald-Post, explains how the book came to be and reflects on how and why Acosta's heyday now seems like a much simpler time in the Mexican drug wars. []

Drumbeats From Mescalero: Conversations with Apache Elders, Warriors, and Horseholders
By Marian Kelley, H. Henrietta Stockel. Texas A&M University Press. 188 pp. Index. $29.95.
Ethnographer, Henrietta Stockel with the assistance of Marian D. Kelley, interviewed twelve members of the Mescalero Apache tribe in New Mexico. Here is a remarkable collection of reminiscences, personal opinions, and current problems, and recommendations for the future of the tribe’s values and culture. Stockel limited her respondents to twelve out of regard for the twelve poles that support the sacred tipi annual puberty rites are held. In spite of the many years of battles, dislocation, relocation, and battles with the U. S. Government, the substance of the interviews spelled hope for the future of the 4,000 members of the tribe. []

Dry River: Stories of Life, Death, and Redemption on the Santa Cruz
By Ken Lamberton. University of Arizona Press. 269 pp. Index. $24.95.
Good writers seize opportunity where they find it. In this case, award-winning essayist Ken Lamberton uses his family’s involvement with the Tucson Audubon Society’s Santa Cruz River Habitat Project to explore the historic, cultural, environmental and personal impact of the desert watershed. On foot and horseback, often in the company of his wife and one or more of his daughters, he moves northward from the river’s headwaters in Mexico to its confluence with the Gila north of Tucson. Taken together, his lyrical ruminations trace a string of life stretching through the arid landscape and offering redemption for those who understand its past, present, and future. This is an elegant and important book from one of southern Arizona’s most gifted writers. []
Over seven years, Ken Lamberton hiked the two-hundred mile length of the historic river beginning with its source in the San Rafael Valley of Arizona and ending when it meets the Gila River near the tiny hamlet of Santa Cruz on the Gila River Indian Reservation. Lamberton covered those miles at various times with his wife or three daughters now and then including vignettes their adventures and the people they met. He has artfully recreated his journey with ecological and geological observations noting change over the centuries nor has he neglected history as it evolved along the Santa Cruz. []

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