With a father in the military, my childhood was rather peripatetic. I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and within a year we had moved to Columbus, Ohio. Shortly after that we moved to Puerto Rico, then El Paso, Texas, back to northern Utah, then Oklahoma, and finally, Utah again. Family vacations were often spent in one or more of the many national parks in southern Utah, and I spent several summers with cousins in Holbrook, Arizona and environs. I graduated in 1978 with a B.S. in psychology, earned an MLS in 1986, and a Ph.D. in Library & Information Science in 2004. Somewhere in there I lived in Spain for close to 18 months. I lived and worked as a librarian in and around New York City for 10 years. I have lived in Baton Rouge with my darling husband and our rat terrier since 2006.
Fried Chicken Castañeda
It’s January, 1929. Prudence Bates, a librarian at the Cleveland Public Library, attends a public meeting promoting the Fred Harvey Southwestern Indian Detours. She is utterly entranced with the romance of the West. She determines to join the next training course for Couriers, or guides, at the La Fonda in Santa Fe in June. Six months later, she leaves for Santa Fe aboard the California Limited from Chicago, stopping in Las Vegas, New Mexico for a week to soak up local culture. On the train, she meets a charming Navajo school teacher, Jerry Begay, a product of the Indian Boarding school system. They feel an instant rapport, but he’s going on to Gallup, so it’s a brief encounter between two strangers on a train.
In Las Vegas, she is befriended by Martha, a Harvey Girl at the Hotel Castañeda, her brother Tom, a local bootlegger, Clara, the desk clerk at the hotel and her boyfriend John, Anne, another Harvey Girl, and her boyfriend, Mike, Gene, and Liz, the daughter of the richest man in the area. Shortly afterward, Tom is found murdered. Is it because of his bootlegging activities? And was that really Jerry Begay whom Prudence saw meeting with Tom in secret the day before he was murdered?