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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.

Rage Against the Dying
By Becky Masterman. Minotaur Books. 307 pp. $24.99.
Masterman gets the Tucson, and Southern Arizona, setting just right as her female narrator, a retired FBI agent and former undercover operative, cannot resist the chance to identify the serial killer who eluded her while she was still on active duty. As good as police procedurals get! []
So, who’d have thought an acquisitions editor for medical and forensics’ examiners’ textbooks could write a successful thriller on her first try? On a whim (and to keep her retired husband busy), Tucsonan Masterman and said husband each pounded out a novel within a month. The character she created, a retired female FBI agent with attitude, and martial—but few domestic—arts, is called back into service to help solve a serial rapist/murderer case. She puts herself in danger and lies about it to keep peace at home, but escalating threats and perpetuating lies threaten her, others, and her marriage. With an engaging voice (the character’s, in first person), lean, disciplined prose; and unflagging action, it’s an impressive debut. []

Railroad Avenue
By Phyllis de la Garza. Silk Label Books. 205 pp. $14.99.
Author of more than a dozen books set in and around Willcox in southeastern Arizona where she lives, de la Garza is a fine storyteller. Her heros are often heroines (you know what I mean), as here--at the turn of the 20th century, who face stiff challenges in a world of tough, usually mean men. Railroad Avenue runs through the heart of Willcox a town divided by the train tracks that are the very reason for the avenue’s, and the town’s, existence. An enjoyable story with lots of local color and some real historical figures. []

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 2nd Edition: Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life and Landscape
By Brad Lancaster. Rainsource Press. 304 pp. Index. $29.95.
Top Pick
Brad Lancaster’s enthusiasm for harvesting rainwater to use around your home is contagious. This greatly revised edition -- over 100 pages of new information, 120 new illustrations, updated case studies, new features like a harvest calendar and new charts -- will replace your dog-eared copy of its predecessor, and will expand your vision for new and better ways to make your home or business more habitable while using less precious tap water. This is a do-it-yourself book on catching and storing rooftop, household, and curbside runoff to grow shade trees and gardens. Lancaster’s message has already inspired many to join the spirited conservation of water in the arid Southwest. The book is now available in Spanish and Arabic. []

Reconstructing the View: The Grand Canyon Photographs of Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe
By Stephen Pyne, Rebecca Senf. University of California Press. 208 pp. $75.00.
The Grand Canyon? Been there, seen that.” You may have thought you had, but one look at this extraordinary book will change your mind. Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe fire off photos like skyrockets on the Fourth of July, with each one drawing more “ooh”s and “ah”s than the last. Using a blend of old and new photographs, Klett and Wolfe show us the canyon as never before. Exploring the limits of camera technology, they passionately lead viewers to discovery amid dozens of reworked photos of the world famous canyon. Klett and Wolfe extend the range of what’s possible and compel us to see anew. My favorites are many but “One hundred setting suns at the Grand Canyon arranged by hue” (title page), “$1.00 worth of scenery” (pp. 12-13), and “Reconstructing the view from El Tovar to Yavapai Point using nineteen postcards” (Plate 50) are tops on my list, but it’s all good. Bring your imagination and sense of humor, as well as your awe. Essays by Rebecca Senf and Stephen Pyne add insight into both the photographers and the project, which was an exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum -- it must have been a dandy. []

Red-Inked Retablos
By Rigoberto Gonzalez. University of Arizona Press. 140 pp. $19.95.
Essays and pieces of memoir by an openly gay man growing up in New Mexico. An excellent writer, his observations reveal both the traditional and more modern views of the culture he grew up in and learned to live with. []

Reflections of Fran Stone
By David E. Bates. Logozon Publishing, LLC. 373 pp. $15.99.

Riding Lucifer's Line: Ranger Deaths Along the Texas-Mexico Border
By Bob Alexander. University of North Texas Press. 404 pp. Index. $29.95.
Alexander, Bob. Riding Lucifer’s Line: Ranger Deaths along the Texas-Mexico Border. Foreword by Byron A. Johnson, Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum. Hardcover with period photographs; with extensive end-notes and bibliography. 404 pages.
Veteran lawman Bob Alexander (former special agent for the U.S Treasury Dept.) has compiled the stories of the “ultimate sacrifice” of twenty-five Texas Rangers in this book. Dividing it into two periods—the Frontier Battalion Era (1874 – 1901) and the Ranger Force Era (1901 – 1935), he devotes a chapter to the early life and then the circumstances surrounding the death of each Ranger.
Ranger Hall of Fame/ Museum Executive Director Johnson provides some historical context for the deaths’ narratives, the photographs are interesting, and Alexander acknowledges the sometimes tarnished reputation of the lawmen. He seems to challenge other historians’ (“mealy-mouthed”) attitude toward the institution and its role in taming the borderlands (…”a bona fide frontier...between constrained civility and unchecked chaos.”). Alexander writes in what the book jacket calls a “characteristic storytelling style,” but could also be called cliché-ridden, and metaphor-burdened.

Right Side of Wrong, The: A Red River Mystery
By Reavis Z. Wortham. Poisoned Pen Press. 250 pp. $14.95.

River Notes: A Natural and Human History of the Colorado
By Wade Davis. Island Press. 162 pp. Index. $22.95.
This very well-written account is “history” in both highlights and personal experience, not in detailed, lengthy retelling of events. A pleasure to read, Davis’ account would be a great introduction for anyone contemplating a trip down “our” great river of the West. []
In a firsthand look at the Southwest’s once mighty Colorado River, Wade Davis invokes the names of John Wesley Powell, Aldo Leopold, and Ed Abbey to plea for wild rivers and a healthy river delta. “For nearly a hundred years we have sacrificed the Colorado River on the altar of our prosperity. Surely it is time to shatter this way of thinking and recognize that the river’s well-being is our prosperity.” It is heartfelt reading. []

Road to Nowhere and Other New Stories from the Southwest
By Brett Garcia Myhren. University of New Mexico Press . 296 pp. $$16.96.
Put aside what you thought you knew for sure about Southwest stories and get ready for an all-new and updated view of the way we live now. Cowboys and cattle drives are so last-century for the notable authors of this fine short story collection—including Ron Carlson, Dagoberto Gilb, Paula McLain and Ron Savage-- who have replaced them with the symbols and signs of the current culture in 20 short stories, all written between 2007 and 2011. The landscape is eternal—hot, breathless, by turns serene and menacing--but it is a living backdrop that speaks to a 21st-century Southwest literary tradition and provides us with a fresh way of understanding ourselves and our shared experience. []

Robert Newton Baskin and the Making of Modern Utah
By John Gary Maxwell. Arthur H. Clark Company. 408 pp. Index. $45.00.

Robert Baskin was an important business and politician in pioneer Utah, even though he was not a Mormon. His controversial life is detailed in this 37th volume of the Western Frontiersmen Series.
Rules of Wolfe, The: A Border Noir
By James Carlos Blake. Mysterious Press. 240 pp. $17.92.
Top Pick
Readers who like mysteries that have a good “sense of place” will applaud Blake’s handling of scenes that range across the border from Mexico into Texas. But fans of action will be equally pleased as the graphic scenes of mayhem, high-speed auto chases, and a fast-moving plot keep us turning the pages at a rapid clip. []
Master creator of the sympathetic outlaw, James Carlos Blake has cast another good bad boy in this “border noir.” When nineteen-year-old Eddie Gato Wolfe, a hot-headed and ambitious junior member of the Texas Wolfe crime family, tries to jump the line to promotion by joining a Mexican cartel in Sonora, he manages to defend the wrong girl, and the two have to flee north. The cartel pulls out all the stops to capture them, so Eddie and the girl are forced on foot into the desert. Blake’s narrative is drum tight: the action never flags, his signature violence is creative (consider the efficacy of punishing tippling employees by preserving them naked—and dead-- in a glass-topped vat of rum), and he includes the harsh realities of the undocumented attempting to trek across the border. A killer read. []

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