Find out the latest indie author news. For FREE.



Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Market)

Ancient pueblo artifacts, including the mythical “Black Heart of God” have been stolen from the ruins of Astialakwa in the Jemez Mountains. The theft sets off a cascade of crime, including murder. Deputy Sheriff Matt Bertram, who is assigned to the Jemez Mountains of Northern New Mexico, has become accustomed to his routine of writing speeding tickets and investigating minor crimes in the small village of Jemez Springs. With the theft of the artifacts, he finds himself engulfed in an investigation which will risk his own life and the lives of his closest friends. In his fourth novel, author Mark David Albertson brings you a tale which will take you on an adventure in the heart of the beautiful Jemez Mountains of Northern New Mexico, as he paints a vivid picture of the land, mountains, and the diverse people who live in the Jemez. Mark’s inventive imagination brings the reader a cast of characters who are odd, quirky, noble, and brave. It is a novel with humor and adventure, filled with mystery wrapped in the supernatural, danger, suspense, comedy and tragedy. Mark’s humorous writing style will keep you entertained, laughing and on the edge of your seat to the last word. Readers who like Tony Hillerman or Carl Hiassen are sure to love this book!
The haunting background of the Jemez people of New Mexico and the stark beauty of their land highlights this gripping tale of murder and archaeology. Deputy Sheriff Matt Bertram, an NCIS veteran, finds that an apparently accidental fall may be hiding a plot to steal artifacts as well as the activities of habitual criminals. Matt is coping with a tragic past and finds himself drawn into the Jemez culture through a tribal member, a fellow officer. Meanwhile, a professor of dubious background is leading a team searching for Native American treasures. As he investigates two murders, Matt has to face his own beliefs and make a decision about his future.

Albertson (Steaming: A Sea Story) excels at creating rich characters. He gradually unrolls Matt and the special bond he had with fellow agent and lover Randy. Matt's friend, a Catholic priest with his own demons comes across as all-too-human, and his relationship with Matt feels believable, despite their different backgrounds. Albertson also gives equal attention to his antagonists, whose story he tells in alternate chapters with Matt's. Ambitious graduate student Naomi and her complex relationship with her mentor, Professor Sinclair, shines a grim light onto academia. Occasionally, the portrayals are a little over the top, but Albertson draws tension from this right until the end.

The relationship between the land and its residents is a key aspect of the story, very much in the tradition of Tony Hillerman's Navajo mysteries. "Our lands are not inanimate," says one Jemez, and Albertson connects possible paranormal events to Matt's ongoing journey, without straining credulity. He does an equally effective job showing the world out of balance in his portrayal of local reprobates the Funk brothers, whose vulgarity stands in contrast with the Jemez characters. The exciting ending proves cathartic and leaves a changed Matt open to further adventures, which will no doubt please readers.

Takeaway: Gripping archaeological mystery set in New Mexico.

Comparable Titles: Tony Hillerman, Nevada Barr.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: B+