“I’ve been a long-time fan of Tony Hillerman since my father introduced me to those mysteries way back in the early 1970s. Since then, I’ve read every Tony Hillerman book and, being raised in the Southwest, love how he (and later his daughter, Anne Hillerman) capture the aura of the land and its people so beautifully and with such empathy. Author Carol Potenza’s debut novel, Hearts of the Missing, won the Tony Hillerman Prize for Best First Mystery Set in the Southwest. It was so good she is now on my automatic-buy list.
Potenza’s second book, The Third Warrior (Tiny Mammoth Press, August 3, 2021), is every bit as enthralling as a Hillerman Leaphorn or Chee mystery novel. Potenza’s love for the New Mexico landscape comes through clearly. Additionally, she has a strong female protagonist, Nicky Matthews, an officer in the police department of the Fire-Sky people. Though not a Native American, she is trusted by the people she serves. The book combines well-conceived plot twists in which Native American mythology clashes with illegal drug distribution and human trafficking. I love the esoteric science Potenza utilizes as Nicky tracks down murderers and thieves of sacred items while she deals with past characterized by abandonment, a boss who dislikes her, a sleazy former lover, an impending financial disaster, and a new love interest.”