With that, Geoff Walker started a day he would never forget. There was never much trouble in Paloma, New Mexico. Geoff Walker, retired and bored, had to choose between being the small town’s marshal and chairman of the local school board and its three-room school. With a background in law and a dusty law degree packed in his attic, he chose marshal. Until the day that he found the body of Juan Valdez it had seemed like a good choice.
The old man had been crucified; complete with a crown of barbed-wire thorns and a message in blood above his head. Juan had not struggled before or during his crucifixion. All evidence seemed to point to the possibility that he had cooperated with his killer. Juan Valdez was involved with the Penitentes, a small, secret sect of a Catholic church that had moved into a modern age and left them behind. The Penitentes practiced a fundamentalist form of Christianity.
The Penitente recognized the value of pain. Only through suffering as Christ did would they be absolved of sin. No one but Geoff wants to know how and why Juan Valdez died. Through museums, art galleries in chic Santa Fe and state police stations in the cold desert, Geoff continues his search and discovers that the killer may not be a murderer and the crucifixion may not be a crime.
A mystery novel from the author of Mahko's Knife. Learn more about John O'Dowd at mahkosknife.blogspot.com.
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