Treasure among the Shadows, by Marie Romero Cash: A Treasure Hunter Meets a Brutal End in Taos Canyon

treasureTreasure among the Shadows ($15.95, 310 pp., ISBN: 978-1-60381-907-7) is Marie Romero Cash’s third murder mystery featuring forensic psychologist Jemimah Hodge. This time around Jemimah and Sheriff Rick Romero are looking for answers in the death of a much-reviled female archeologist.

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“Jemimah Hodge has guts, heart and a brilliant sense of direction when she’s on the trail of something buried. Cash delivers a thrilling ride from start to finish. Riveting.”

—Chris Rogers, author, the Dixie Flannigan series

Treasure among the Shadows is a fictional take on the controversial, real-life hunt for a treasure buried by Forrest Fenn that has attracted the attention of treasure seekers worldwide as well as the FBI. The author knows Fenn in real life; in the book he is renamed Tim McCabe and has strong ties to law enforcement, specifically Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Deputy Rick Romero, a straight-arrow local boy who is dating his esteemed colleague, forensic psychologist Jemimah Hodge. Hodge, who gets involved in the murder mystery beyond the scope of her job, has a curious back story: as a teenager, she ran away from a polygamist Mormon community to save herself from being married off to a stranger three times her age. She then put herself through school, earned a doctorate, and eventually landed in Santa Fe. Joining this crew as McCabe’s foil — and then the story’s next murder victim — is Gilda Humphreys, the frumpy, tyrannical state archaeologist who’s been leading a double life as a sex kitten. She’s fixated on the treasures to be found on McCabe’s ranch — property he bought from a pueblo and to which he insists the state has no claim. When real treasure is indeed found, the fun begins.”

Pasatiempo, the New Mexican’s Weekly Magazine of Arts, Entertainment & Culture

“The essence of northern New Mexico permeates the pages of this nonstop murder mystery…. Congratulations to Marie Romero Cash for painting new shades into the rich New Mexico canvas.”

—Robert J. Ray, author of the Matt Murdock Murder Mystery series

“Jemimah Hodge and Sheriff Rick Romero are a great team. The two of them remind me a lot of ‘McCloud’ from the old TV show, maybe because he was from Taos, New Mexico also. There are two murders that our team needs to solve, one without suspects and one with plenty. Treasure Among The Shadows is a wonderful thriller; the tension mounts as Jemimah and Rick are trying to identify the killer. It is loaded with twists and turns and red herrings that will leave you guessing all the while you are flipping pages to find out what happens next. Ms. Cash has provided us with a great character in Jemimah Hodge and I am going to correct my earlier mistake and go and get the first two books to hold me over until the next book in this series comes out.”  Read more ….

—Vic’s Media Room

“A relaxed, interesting and light Summer read that any detective lover will enjoy.”

—Fenny, Hopscotching Blog

“The book brings the area of Taos and New Mexico to life! You will find yourself wanting to go back and read the previous two books, and looking forward to the next book in the series too. You’ll love the team of Jemimah and Rick.”  Read more ….

—Bless Their Hearts Mom Blog

4 Stars: “Jemimah is an interesting character with an unusual background, having run from a polygamous cult as a teenager.  I assume her history is covered more fully in the first two books, so I will be looking for those next.  The Southwest locale is as important to the story as the characters themselves. This series should be enjoyed by fans of Tony Hillerman.”  Read more ….

—The Self-Taught Cook Blog

A woman is strangled and shot. She was last seen alive at a casino near Santa Fe. Forensic Psychologist Jemimah Hodge is on the case, as is her new boyfriend, Sheriff Rick Romero. The trail has already grown cold when another woman is murdered under similar circumstances. The first dead woman left behind a disgruntled ex-spouse but no other obvious suspects. Gilda Humphreys, the second victim, is another story. First there is her househusband, then there are all her co-workers … It seems no one is shedding a tear for Gilda.

While going through Gilda’s field notes, Jemimah discovers that the woman was experiencing a sexual renaissance. Could one of her lovers have killed her? Then there is Tim McCabe’s treasure hunt. A wealthy gallery owner and collector, McCabe has buried a chest filled with valuable coins and jewelry and challenged the public to find it. When Gilda wasn’t dressing down her co-workers or dallying with lovers, she was searching for McCabe’s treasure.

Was it greed that killed Gilda? A scorned lover or vengeful co-worker? With so many suspects and so few clues, Rick and Jemimah face one of the most challenging cases of their careers.

Says Cash, “I got the idea for this book after reading the fabulous memoir of a long-time Santa Fe collector and owner of private Indian ruins near Cerrillos on the ranch that has been the site for my other books. As if his adventures weren’t exciting enough, Forrest Fenn tossed in an honest to goodness treasure hunt. Besides a fictional treasure hunt, my book has a murder attached and a few bad guys thrown in for good measure.”

Marie Romero Cash was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and has lived there most of her life. In her mid-thirties she discovered the traditional arts of northern New Mexico. After twenty years of creating award-winning art, she began to write about it. At fifty she enrolled in college and, five years later, graduated with a degree in Southwest Studies. In 1998, she received the prestigious Javits Fellowship to pursue her education. Since then Marie has written several books about the art and culture of the southwest, including a memoir about growing up in Santa Fe. Click here to find Marie on the Web.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

The tangerine glow brushed the mountain tops in the final moments of the sunset. Gilda had been tapping markers into the trees for over an hour to document her progress in the canyon. She leaned over to pick up her backpack. The crackling of leaves startled her. She could make out the silhouette of a man moving toward her. A look of anguish spread over her face as he came within a foot of her. She frantically reached for her cellphone.

He pulled a guitar wire from his inside pocket.

She gasped. “What …”

Inches from her she stared into the blank look in the deep wells of darkness that were his eyes. His breath was rank and heavy.

Her voice trembled. “Please. Don’t hurt me.”

He pushed his face into hers. “Nobody’s going to hear you.”

Gilda lurched forward. He grabbed her arm and pulled her back, knocking her to her knees. He squeezed the cord around her neck as she struggled to get free. He reached under his coat. The bullet shattered her head. A cloud of smoke filled the air around her as her lifeless body dropped to the ground.

He dragged her to the edge of the river and rolled her over the embankment, waiting for the splash. Looking over the ledge, he discovered she had fallen into a boat tangled in the bushes and roared with laughter.

“Would you look at that? Perfect three point landing.”

The stranger retrieved his gear, clicked on his flashlight and made his way down the hill where his car was parked behind a clump of chamisa. He was in no hurry. The job was done.

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