Eating by the book: New Mexico sets backdrops for mysterious murders | lifestyles

Two new novels arriving from New Mexico this month are Dine writer/filmmaker Ramona Emerson’s Shutter (Soho Press, 2022) and CR Koons’ Murder at Tiger Mountain ((Epicenter Press, 2022). In each Falling the adage “Write what you know” has served the author exceptionally well.

First, through her fictional character Rita Todacheene, Emerson creates a powerful image of crime scene photography, her first career in real life. Outwardly exhausted from hours spent documenting a murder scene for the Albuquerque Police Department, Rita inwardly sees the ghosts of the victims who continue to beg for their help. But this supernatural ability, possessed since childhood on the Navajo Reservation, also allows Rita to uncover clues missed by detectives and successfully solve crimes.

Beginning with a really vivid scene of the carnage after a suicide jump from an overpass onto the freeway, the young woman who was killed appears to Rita and insists that she was murdered. With evidence leading to a dangerous cartel and a ghost urging her to avenge her death, it could be Rita who ends up becoming a victim. This is a truly stunning ghost story and crime thriller well worth a read, made all the more atmospheric by its setting and the Navajo investigator.

Next, in Murder at Sleeping Tiger, Koons delves into the world of Zen retreats and ashrams unique to northern New Mexico through a psychological crime thriller set during a silent meditation retreat. The gathering at the Sleeping Tiger Zen Center is complicated by a snowstorm in December, which hampered Sheriff Ulysses Walker’s investigation into the disappearance of a Picuris man in the mountains near Taos. It soon becomes clear that a dangerous criminal is on the loose. Koons, a mindfulness-based psychotherapy consultant, uses her insight to create characters whose human flaws reveal their less-than-zen sides. Dharma and karma collide in this unique thriller, which we hope will not be the last in the Sheriff Ulysses Walker series.

Koons mentions Calabacitas as a food enjoyed by the residents in the novel. She sent this recipe from The Border Cookbook by Cheryl Alter Jamison and Bill Jamison to share with readers. The addition of cinnamon gives this dish a unique flavor that will brighten up your Thanksgiving table.


2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

5 cups sliced ​​zucchini or a mix of zucchini and summer or patty pan squash

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cups corn, fresh or frozen

1/2 cup roasted mild new Mexican green chilies

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons coriander, chopped

4 spring onions, sliced

Heat butter and oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the squash and onion and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the corn, chilli, salt and cinnamon and cook covered for another 10 minutes. Add spring onions and coriander and heat through. Serve immediately. Excellent with enchiladas. For 6 to 8 people.