By J.A. Jance
340 pages; $29.99; mystery
So, a lot's happened since Tucson and Seattle resident J. A. Jance published her first mystery 30 years ago. CSI, for example. Facial recognition. The Internet. We're not in Bisbee anymore, Joanna. To Jance's credit, Moving Target, her 50th novel, ventures well into the world of contemporary technology. That, and into around-the-world, around-the-clock settings.
Former reporter Ali Reynolds flies from Arizona to England to buy a wedding dress. Since her fiancé, B., the owner of a high-tech security company in Sedona, can afford it, she takes along her faithful British "aide-de-camp" Leland, who hasn't been home since he fled it under a cloud decades before. While Ali is gone (and B. is in Japan), B. becomes embroiled in investigating unexplained burns inflicted on a brilliant young computer hacker in jail in Texas. When a representative of a computer software company unexpectedly offers the hacker's family a large sum of money, B. realizes the boy might have something valuable that needs protection.
Meanwhile, Ali and Leland navigate the minefield of his British relatives and uncover a mystery of their own. When the kid and his family are suddenly in danger, Ali and B. need to galvanize forces internationally, virtually and ecclesiastically (imagine one Taser-wielding nun), and step in. Lots of action, and the book is fast-paced and technology-savvy.
Milk and Filth
By Carmen Giménez Smith
The University of Arizona Press
80 pages; $15.95; poetry
This remarkable collection of earthy, erudite, witty and outraged political and personal poems concerns women, and bodies, and art. The volume, the work of Carmen Giménez Smith, a New Mexico State University assistant professor and the editor-in-chief of the literary journal Puerto del Sol, has been named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle's annual poetry award. At heart, it's a feminist's voice interrogating feminism (early: "In college I was groomed to overthrow patriarchy by the capri-panted rebel who introduced me to Our Bodies, Our Selves ..."), and current and evolving. She writes about herself and identity ("My mouths don't speak the same language"). She combines myth with comedy—Phaedra and Joan Rivers; classical with pop—Flaubert and Facebook. She inhabits Malinché, La Llorona, and the Virgin Mary ("You'd like to downgrade/ into human. Then what? Amorality, osteoporosis/ and not even a marble estuary for the ages").
Giménez Smith's abstract poems are vivid, often surprising ("Make me an outfit with mutable bloom,/ an envy magnet. Make/ me a fabric that changes/ the subject"). Her personal story seems concrete and physical: "I'm a feminist for all the bodies strewn over history and semi-/emerging from the earth." "I liked my poetry to smell like I had forgotten my deodorant."
The most pervasive images of the collection are elemental—of soil, blood, the natural world. Some reflect the earth-body performance art of the 1970s and '80s by Cuban-American Ana Mendieta. Giménez Smith is able to evoke and elevate with words what Mendieta created with performance. ("She took her sex and put it everywhere. She bruised the earth with slits.")
Modern Southwest Cooking: Seriously Delicious Inventions
By Ryan Clark
Rio Nuevo Publishers
152 pages; $16.95; cookbook
Grilled artichokes with poblano-truffle aioli. Chicken meatballs in mole. Prickly pear mojito. Mussels with nopales. Habanero crème brûlée.
Sigh ... Cordon Bleu-corn cuisine.
In Modern Southwest Cooking, local chef Ryan Clark and local publisher Rio Nuevo have put together a collection of dieter's-resolve-busting recipes featuring ingredients of the Southwest—chiles of all kinds, cactus, heritage vegetables, native meat, poultry (and rattlesnake); seafood from the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific. Clark's training is French, but his approach is casual and accessible. He advises on buying locally and sustainably. The book's photos are beautiful and directions are clear. If some of the recipes are more complex than a once-a-week cook can manage, you can go for the simpler ones. I tried the spice-rubbed pork loin with yam and ginger-jalapeño pavé. That, and a few Mexican chocolate chunk cookies: Seriously delicious.