Artifacts of Death: A Murder Mystery in Utah's Canyon Country

By Curtin, Rich

ISBN 9781453890851

Price $12.95

Events which took place in 1938 lead to the present-day killing of a ranch hand in the remote canyon country near Moab, Utah, a mecca for outdoor adventure seekers. The only clue besides a 9-mm slug in the victim's head is an ancient-Indian potsherd stuck into his chest.

Deputy Sheriff Manny Rivera is assigned the case and judges that it's likely related to a drug deal gone bad. But he's actually up against an intelligent and cunning adversary driven by greed who's discovered a long-forgotten cave containing a collection of rare museum-quality Indian artifacts. Local politicians and merchants are exerting strong pressure on the sheriff for a quick resolution to the case as the killing is threatening to disrupt the upcoming tourist season, Moab's sole source of economic activity. After all, who would want to explore the back country with a killer on the loose out there?

In pursuit of the villain, Rivera takes the reader on a journey involving an unscruoulous artifact dealed, a fortune in ancient-Indian pots, a university laboratory, a home for the elderly, a ranch with an important secret, and a man who deeply regrets a decision he made.

In the end, Rivera faces a moral crisis: Should he enforce the law or serve the cause of justice? And a woman learns the answer to a question that's been haunting her for seventy years.

The story provides the reader with a tightly woven plot, a strong sense of place, and an entertaining cast of characters. For readers already familiar with southeast Utah, vivid landscape descriptions will give them a sense of re-entering the land of high-desert canyons, mesas mountains, and rivers.