The Mariachi Murder, by Marie Romero Cash: A Musician’s Death Leads the Santa Fe Police on a Not-So-Merry Chase

mariachi_murderThe Mariachi Murder ($15.95, 324 pp., ISBN: 978-1-60381-300-6) is Marie Romero Cash’s fourth murder mystery featuring forensic psychologist Jemimah Hodge. When Jemimah and her boyfriend Sheriff Rick Romero investigate the death of a popular mariachi, the clues lead them uncomfortably close to home.

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The Mariachi Murder, Marie Romero Cash’s new mystery, offers readers the pleasures we have come to expect from her Jemimah Hodge series: a vivid physical and cultural landscape populated with true-to-life characters in a fast-paced story. Set in New Mexico, in and around Santa Fe, the familiar—Cash’s family has lived here for generations—meets the mysterious when a mariachi musician turns up dead in the high desert. Forensic psychologist Jemimah Hodge and her sheriff’s detective amor Rick Romero need to solve a murder, and that requires their ability to sort through the Hispanic, Anglo, and Pueblo eccentricities of New Mexico. All the details—from the deceased macho mariachi in silver-tipped cowboy boots to the gaudy sunset horizons of the Southwest to the sometimes uneasy relations within or between cultures—are absolutely dead-on. Marie Romero Cash knows her material intimately and crafts an entertaining ride through the mystery of death and life in a fascinating world. Don’t miss it!”

—Michael Pettit, winner of the New Mexico Book Award for Riding for the Brand

“Marie Romero Cash has created a set of well-drawn characters for her Jemimah Hodge mystery series in this, her fourth installment. Her descriptions of the breathtaking scenery, familiar to all New Mexicans, paint vivid pictures for her readers to enjoy. I, for one, am anxious to try one of the several restaurants she uses to nourish her characters while they struggle to solve the murder of a popular mariachi from Santa Fe. Heart-stopping action threads its way through the story right up to the minute they catch their killer, just in time to save the next victim.”

—Patricia Smith Wood, author of The Easter Egg Murder and Murder on Sagebrush Lane

“Full disclosure—I’m a junkie when it comes to stories set in New Mexico. Give me a book by Rudolfo Anaya, Anne Hillerman, Michael McGarrity, Patricia Wood Smith…. Add to that list Marie Romero Cash. Her two key characters, Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Detective Rick Romero and his girlfriend, Dr. Jemimah Hodge, are protagonists I would love to have created. Marie’s series, which just gets better with each book, captures the food, the landscape and—particularly in this latest episode—the music of the land of enchantment. I’m already looking forward to the next one.”

—Mike Orenduff, Author of the Pot Thief series.

The Mariachi Murder offers readers the pleasures we have come to expect from her Jemimah Hodge series: a vivid physical and cultural landscape populated with true-to-life characters in a fast-paced story.”  Read more….

—Vic’s Media Room

“A great read, packed with vignettes of the food and landscape of the area.”  Read more….

—Cover Reads, A service of the New Mexico book community, Feb. 2016

A popular mariachi singer is found shot and buried south of Santa Fe near Cerrillos, putting him in the jurisdiction of Detective Rick Romero and Forensic Psychologist Jemimah Hodge. Eduardo Sanchez had a massive ego that could well have gotten him killed, considering his penchant for reckless womanizing. However, as the weeks pass, the trail grows cold, increasing the pressure on law enforcement. Was the mariachi killed by a spurned girlfriend or an angry husband? Why was he traveling back and forth between Santa Fe and Mexico?

Although Rick and Jemimah have been dating for two years, they have yet to commit. So when Rick’s beautiful ex-wife breezes into town and makes a play for him, she stirs up trouble all around. Meanwhile Jemimah receives her own unwelcome visitor: a friend of her FLDS family who’s tracked her down and wants to dredge up the past. To add to the drama, Detective Romero’s wayward ex-con brother Carlos lands in deep trouble when he hooks up with a woman hiding her checkered past.

When the clues come together, they intersect in volatile ways no one could have foreseen.

Says Marie, “Santa Fe is enriched by traditional mariachi music. Many locals have listened to it since childhood, as it was generally a part of celebrations such as fiestas, lounge entertainment, and funerals. I find it fascinating to watch these musicians perform, each dressed in a traditional embroidered black suit along with a crisp white shirt, bolero jacket and Mexican hat, cowboy boots with silver wing tips. Having observed how women reacted to the members of the band, I thought it would be interesting to feature a mariachi in a mystery. One of my good friends dated one for a number of years, and we spent a lot of time laughing about how into himself he was, and how hard he worked at keeping his toupee a secret. Rick introduced Jemimah to the music, and it turned out an entire investigation would revolve around this particular musician.”

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:

He pushed against the glass door. A sugar rush flooded his nasal passages as he walked past a counter laden with freshly baked pastries. It was a small establishment but apparently popular, as almost every table was occupied. The walls were decorated with colorful paintings of multi-layered cakes and frosted cupcakes. He couldn’t miss Julie. She was waving her arm and then stood as he walked toward her table. She reached out to embrace him. He noticed the recently showered scent he used to love about her. It appeared she hadn’t gained an ounce of weight over the years.

“You look great, Rick. We have so much to catch up on,” she tittered. “Life must be treating you well.”

They walked to the counter, where he ordered black coffee and Julie ordered a large vanilla latte with extra whipped cream. He took a seat across from her at a corner table. They sat in silence as he sugared his coffee and gave it a stir. She was even more beautiful than he remembered. She smiled at him. Her lips were full and moist, her eyes an intense green darker than jade. Her hair was a deep piñon brown, laced with golden highlights. Her skin was smooth and flawless. She looked younger than her age. But why had she returned to Santa Fe? They had lived together the entire five years of their marriage. She hated that he was a cop. Her figure was perfect.

In a whirl, his mind shifted from one thought to another. He recalled he had been drunk most of the time following their breakup and still hadn’t forgotten the day she left.

There was a faraway look in her eyes … or was he just imagining things? She was smartly dressed in tailored pants and a loose silk jacket over a contrasting shell. Conservative, yet she managed to pull off a certain effortless sexiness.

She broke the silence. “When I came back to Santa Fe a week ago, I wasn’t surprised to hear you were still on the force and that you had moved up the ladder.”

He looked up at her. “Probably be a lifer.”

“You always did like being a cop.”

He methodically stirred his coffee. “And you always hated it.”

“Yes, I have to admit I did. I could never see much of a future in it. You were gone most nights.” She reached over and put her hand on his. “You’re going to stir a hole at the bottom of that cup.”

Romero felt his temperature rising. “I guess you wanted to meet to discuss which one of us was to blame for the breakup of our marriage?”

Her lips curled into a crooked smile. “Sorry. Old habits die hard. I guess I’m still pretty good at pushing buttons.”

“I’ll say,” he said dryly. “So why are you here, Julie? Granted, I have no say about your being in Santa Fe, but why the urgent need for us to meet?”

She tilted her head and looked straight at him. “I’m going to be honest, Rick. After all these years and a number of relationships that went nowhere, I slowly began to realize in the back of my head that I might have made a mistake in leaving you … that there might still be hope for us.”

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