Lara McClintoch, her marriage ended and her antiques business sold, eagerly embarks on a trip to Mexico to help an old friend solve a mystery. On arrival, her friend puts off their meeting and then disappears. After Lara witnesses a brazen robbery of a valuable statue of the ancient Mayan civilization and stumbles on a corpse in a museum of antiquities, she becomes a police suspect. Afraid of the police and unsure whom to trust, Lara follows clues pointing to black marketeers and zealous revolutionaries. This dangerous trail takes her to remote archaeological ruins, lush jungles, and bustling streets filled with revelers. Lara engages in a thrilling battle of wits and courage to unmask a killer and stop a tomb-robber in the shadowy world of Xibalba, the Lords of Death.
I guess that the purpose of various reading challenges is to get us to read outside our comfort zones. I chose this book to be my “title beginning with X” choice for this year. Although I am a sometimes mystery reader, I’m generally not a big fan of the cozy mysteries and that is how I would have to categorize this one.
What I did really like in this book was the emphasis on Mayan mythology and culture. I hope that the author did her research, as I’d like to believe that I learned a few things about both. However, this is very much a first book as well as the first book in a series. Not too bad for the first novel of a bureaucrat (Hamilton was director of the governmental branch responsible for licensing of archaeology in the province of Ontario) and it did get nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Crime Novel in 1998. Apparently Ms. Hamilton visited the sites where she set her books—what a wonderful way to choose your travel destinations!
I can’t say that I feel impelled to read the further adventures of Lara McClintoch, despite the fact that there are ten more books in the series. I suppose that if one of them fit into another reading challenge, that I could be convinced to pick it up.