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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.

Fatal Error
By Judith A. Jance. Simon & Schuster. 353 pp. $29.99.
Ali Reynolds (Jance fans will remember her from three previous mysteries) is attending the Arizona Police Academy while pulling a full shift at her parents' restaurant. Life is hectic but not totally crazy until an old friend from her California days shows up in desperate need of help. The title has more than one meaging, of course, and when it happens to your computer...

Father Kino's Herbs: Growing and Using Them Today
By Jacqueline Soule. Tierra del Sol Institute. 112 pp. Index. $14.95.
The author writes about the herbs available in Pimería Alta during the time of Father Kino and specifically for those interested in cultivating them today. Included are suggestions for preserving, and uses in cooking; in the home, such as air freshener, even toothpaste; and for the body, exfoliants, masks, or bath salts. []

Feast Day of Fools: A Novel
By James Lee Burke. Simon & Schuster. 463 pp. $26.99.
Demons haunt the dreams of even the righteous in Burke's latest adrenaline-filled novel set in the West Texas borderlands. A free-for-all search for a missing defense contractor sets in motion a modern-day morality play that plunges aging Sheriff Hackberry Holland into a violent world that challenges traditional concepts of good and evil, and where flawed human beings pay a high price for redemption. The cast of fools includes a mestizo coyote, a border vigilante, a Russian mobster, and Preacher Jack Collins, the submachine-gun toting serial killer from The Rain Gods. Burke once again demonstrates his mastery of style and form as he herds his cast of broken individuals (including a madonna figure in the guise of a Chinese ex-CIA operative) through a forest of plot twists to a dramatic climax that suggests he has much more in store for readers. []

Fence, The: National Security, Public Safety, and Illegal Immigration Along the U.S.-Mexico Border
By Robert Lee Maril. Texas Tech University Press. 368 pp. Index. $29.95.
Maril, a sociologist and long-time student of border issues, draws on extensive research, personal experience, and interviews to unravel the mind-boggling complexities of what many Americans, politicians in particular, consider a simple and effective method of securing the U.S.-Mexico boundary. Setting aside the larger question of whether good fences do in fact make good neighbors, Maril paints a disturbing picture of arrogance, incompetence, greed, stultifying bureaucracy, and above all blatant disregard of economic, political, geographic, and cultural reality that impedes rather than promotes border security. Maril doesn't profess to have all the answers, but he nonetheless performs an important service by simply posing the right questions. []
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a one-size-fits-all agency, but America’s southern borderland is a very complicated mix of people, geography, politics, economics, ecology, and history, so it’s no wonder that the DHS border fence has become a square peg in a round hole. Then if you throw in politicians who want to campaign on the issue of border security and contractors who smell gravy, you can see that the problem becomes a career with no real solution in sight. In a case built on hundreds of interviews from aliens, agents, residents, “experts,” and politicians, Maril looks at all of the many sides of the perplexing issues. Maril is a genuine expert on the subject, having testified before congress and others, and his appreciation of human stories is at once compassionate and insightful. Best book to date on the paradoxes and contradictions of border security and our Great Wall of America. If you read any of the book, hit “A Modest Proposal” and repeat after Maril: “We risk a foolishness of both monumental proportions and monumental consequences” at enormous cost. []

Field Man: Life as a Desert Archaeologist
By Julian D. Hayden. University of Arizona Press. 352 pp. Index. $45.00.
Top Pick
Julian Hayden was the real deal, and the world seems like a smaller and less interesting place without him. Fortunately, Bill Broyles had the foresight in the 1990s to turn on a tape recorder and ask Julian, a consummate storyteller, about his life. Here is his opinionated account of eight decades in search of adventure and knowledge that brought him into contact with many of the great names in southwestern archaeology and enabled him to formulate his own innovative theories. Broyles and Boyer resist the impulse to intrude so that what we read are Julian's own words expressed with his characteristic smile and a sly twinkle in his eye. Those of us who knew Julian are transported to his back yard, where we heard many of these stories for the first time. For others, this absorbing book provides a fascinating account of a life well lived and a vivid portrait of what now seems like a heroic era in the desert Southwest. []
A few of the words that come to mind while reading this book--remarkable, amazing, unique and unforgettable—describe Julian Hayden, who was all of these, and much, much more. Self-taught, he made archaeological discoveries and propounded theories unrecognized and sneered at by the professional community. That’s what his weekends were dedicated to; on weekdays he and his crews trenched sewer lines and installed septic tanks in Tucson. Then he “discovered” the Pinacates (that clump of desert rock due south in Sonora) and spent, by his estimate, 160 weekends exploring them and thinking about the implications of the artifacts found there. Editors Broyles and Boyer let him speak for himself, no questions, no interruptions, and boy does he say what is on his mind! []

Finding Everett Ruess: The Remarkable Life and Unsolved Disappearance of a Legendary Wilderness Explorer
By Jon Krakauer, David Roberts. Broadway Books. 400 pp. $25.00.
Reuss' disappearance in the southern Utah Canyonlands almost eighty years ago is one of the Southwest's enduring mysteries. Roberts draws on extensive archival research, interviews, and his own backcountry exploration to draw an intimate portrait of Ruess, the boy (he was only twenty years old when he vanished) and the artist whose ecstatic nature writings have been hailed as visionary by the likes of Wallace Stegner and Ed Abbey. Equally intriguing is Roberts' examination of the various theories advanced to explain what may have happened to Reuss and the account of his personal involvement with the recent, much-publicized, discovery of a body thought to be Reuss' (it wasn't). This spellbinding book, with its twists and turns and exotic cast of characters, is as readable as it is important to anyone searching for insight into a fascinating individual mesmerized by the call of the wild. []

Finding Ghosts in Phoenix
By Katie Mullaly. Schiffer Publishing Ltd.. 159 pp. Index. $14.99.
According to the Wailing Bansidhe Investigations, there is plenty of paranormal activity in Phoenix. Using ESP, EMF detectors (a device that finds electromagnetic fields), and digital cameras, this group has “had an interest in ghosts since passing through the birth canal (p. 15). They have had spine-tingling experiences at the Arizona Museum of Natural History, discovered ghosts at the San Carlos Hotel, Monti’s La Casa Vieja, and more. Contained are instructions for those who might be interested in ghost hunting, a glossary, and photographs, all poured forth in the manner of a friendly chat. []

Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout
By Philip Connors. Ecco. 246 pp. $24.99.
Top Pick
Ten years ago Connors left an editing job with the "Wall Street Journal" to replace a friend who worked as a fire lookout in the Gila Wilderness. Thus began his love affair with the countryside, the solitude, the challenge and the responsibility of the job. This book notes the activities of the 2009 season in chapters divided by month, April through August, but is much more than a mere record: it is also a Thoreau-like philosophic contemplation; a history of fire philosophy, laced with reminiscences of celebrities who were lookouts; a social criticism on modern life; and, a personal biography, all clearly and wryly written. Outstanding! []

First Grave on the Right
By Darynda Jones. St. Martin's Press. 310 pp. $22.99.
Her name is Charley Davidson. She’s a part-time private investigator and she is being haunted by ghosts, one of whom seems both more alive and more sexy than her miserable body can tolerate. The setting, not particularly important here, is Albuquerque. []

Forced to Abandon Our Fields: The 1914 Clay Southworth Gila River Pima Interviews
By David H. DeJong. University of Utah Press. 177 pp. Index. $34.95.
In 1900 Pima Indian farmers south of Phoenix were very successful using a combination of traditional and modern methods. They understood irrigation, for after all they had descended from the Hohokam who without modern machinery had built the amazing canal system that once spread across the Salt River Valley. But, by 1914 their fields were shambles and their crops impoverished because settlers upstream had taken their water. The injustice is that the federal government did not defend them while politicians rewrote water laws to disadvantage the Pimas. This book ably tells that story along with publishing eloquent interviews conducted with the farmers themselves by an irrigation engineer, Clay Stallworth. Native farmers who once raised and sold wheat, corn, melons, pumpkins, beans, lima beans, peas, cotton, and tobacco were reduced to selling firewood from dying mesquite trees. []

Fort Bayard Story, The: 1866-1899
By Andrea Jaquez, Neta Pope. Andrea Jaquez. 389 pp. Index. $30.00.
Military historians and buffs should applaud the publication of this encyclopedic history of the frontier army post near Silver City, New Mexico. Drawing on an immense body of archival and printed materials, the authors seemingly leave no stone unturned as they describe construction by African American infantrymen in the aftermath of the Civil War and the important role the garrison played in protecting settlers against incursions by Victorio, Geronimo, and other legendary Apache leaders. Perhaps most important, by focusing on intriguing characters and the minutia of military duty, they bring to life the drudgery, hardship, and occasional joys of soldier life. This book is meticulously researched and graced by hundreds of rare and fascinating photographs. []

Fourth Wife, The: Polygamy, Love, & Revolution
By Carolyn O'Bagy Davis. Rio Nuevo Publishers. 205 pp. $14.95.
Utah-born Mormon Julia Sarah Abegg Call, 1885-1937, was the polygamous fourth wife of Anson Bowen Call, rancher, farmer, missionary and civic leader, mostly in Mexico. This is a sympathetic account of a self-effacing woman who bore thirteen children, lived through the lengthy and dangerous Mexican Revolution, constantly moving back and forth from Tucson (where her mother lived) and Mexico to attempt to escape danger, having to rebuild and begin again, and seeming to accept her status as inferior to other wives. Although I found all the family details tiresome and certainly found the woman herself irritating (she told her eldest daughter, “I would rather bury you, . . .never see you again, than to have your faith buried with an outsider” [gentile], this is a unique slice of history. []

By Susan Cummins Miller. Texas Tech University Press. 280 pp. $24.95.
Frankie McFarlane, a geologist who often gets involved in crime scenes (the fifth in a series), partners with fiancé Philo Dain, private investigator, when his uncle Derek, a Tucson developer, finds his wife tortured and murdered. The non-stop action moves from Tucson to the Bay area, where family secrets, past history and sinister plots are revealed. This is a page-turner with the added interest of local Tucson descriptions and geologic edification about California faults. []
A murder in a Tucson foothills mansion and the disappearance of a valuable coin collection send geologist/sleuth Frankie Macfarlane and her fiance/business partner Philo Dane to the San Francisco Bay Area for answers to an ever-deepening family mystery that stretches to ancient Europe and modern-day Afghanistan. Devotees of this engaging series may miss some of its trademark scientific digressions and firm southwestern setting, but Miller more than compensates with page-turning suspense and non-stop action. []

Frequently Asked Questions About Bats
By Rose Houk. Western National Parks Association. 20 pp. $6.95.
Even if you know a lot about bats, you’ll have fun here appreciating them. The illustrations are compelling, the text will pump your curiosity, and you’ll want to find a bridge or cave tonight so you can see a cloud of them launch at sunset. What marvelous creatures, and author Rose Houk does them justice. []

From This Wicked Patch of Dust
By Sergio Troncoso. University of Arizona Press. 229 pp. $17.95.
Troncoso writes with a wonderful ear for dialog and the simple, but difficult, lives of Hispanics in the lower Rio Grande valley. Whether they are looking for work, trying to protect their limited possessions, or just figuring out how to survive another day, these are real people. []

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