Cover image for The pumpkin seed massacre
The pumpkin seed massacre
Slater, Susan, 1942-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Angel Fire, NM : Intrigue Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
234 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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FICTION Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Mystery

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People are dying in the Tewa Indian village, but it isn't until Ben Pecos accepts the job as counselor for the pueblo that anyone seriously questions the cause. Ben, half Tewa and half Anglo, was adopted at the age of five and lived most of his life away from the pueblo. After attending Stanford, he has returned to spend time with his grandmother and work among his people. Little does he dream that in coming back to New Mexico, he will also be thrown into the midst of land fraud schemes and a mysterious killer illness.Evoking vivid images of present-day life in New Mexico's pueblos, Slater's first novel introduces Ben Pecos and investigative reporter Julie Conlin, who will become the important woman in his life.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Benson Pecos, a 26-year-old Tewa Pueblo, becomes a reservation medical investigator just as a mystery epidemic attacks both reservation residents and visitors, sweeping them to a quick, painful death. As Pecos struggles to find the epidemic's cause, he must come to grips with both his own ignorance of Pueblo folkways--likely at the root of the epidemic's origins--and his strong feelings for a young female reporter. Despite some flat dialogue and pacing problems, Slater's first novel holds the reader's interest with its brisk pace, well-rendered New Mexico landscape, and challenging plot, which nicely incorporates material on genetics, germ warfare, and reservation gambling. Appealing both to the medical-thriller crowd and to fans of such established authors of Native American series as Hillerman and Margaret Coel, this promising first novel heralds a series to watch. --John Rowen

Publisher's Weekly Review

Slater's debut, set on the Tewa Pueblo in New Mexico, combines Native American culture with some of the elements of a twisty medical thriller. Protagonist Benson (Ben) Pecos, who was born on the pueblo but grew up in Utah, accepts an internship in counseling from Dr. Sanford Black at the Albuquerque Service Unit of the Indian Health Service. Black is concerned because four people with similar, flu-like symptoms have died in the course of four days. As the number of cases mounts, words like "epidemic" and "plague" begin to be bandied about. Ben, whose mother was Tewa and whose father was Anglo, soon finds himself in the midst of the investigation into these mysterious deaths. Television news reporter Julie Conlin is assigned to cover the story, and, though their first meeting starts inauspiciously, she and Ben are attracted to one another. As they delve into the increasing number of deaths, the governor of the pueblo dies of the mysterious plague, an event that vaults Johnson Yepa, who wants to develop a casino on tribal land, to the top post. Meanwhile, a tribal elder is found to be in possession of a packet of pumpkin seeds that Black and his team figure out contain a deadly, manmade virus. That the virus and the casino are connected won't come as a surprise to readers. Nor will the identity of the man behind all the mayhem, since Slater identifies him very early. With most of the suspense dulled, Slater has to rely on the appeal of Ben to sustain a reader's interest. But neither Ben nor anyone else really comes alive in a narrative that is inelegantly fractured into different points of view. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Newcomer Slater successfully taps into the complex issues facing Native American communities in this dynamic mystery set primarily in one of New Mexico's Tewa Pueblos. Handsome Ben Pecos has straddled Anglo and Native cultures since the death of his mother, an alcoholic Tewa artist, spending summers with his grandmother at the pueblo and winters with adoptive parents in Utah. While considering graduate school, Ben accepts an internship at the Tewa Pueblo's medical clinic and is immediately drawn into a major medical disaster. A plague-like epidemic has begun spreading among New Mexico's residents and tourists, sending the nation into a fevered panic. As Ben is drawn into the orbit of the strange illness (presumably caused by tainted pumpkin seeds), he begins to fall for Julie Conlin, a local TV reporter. This is a wonderful book with loveable heroes. Recommended for public and academic libraries where interest in the Southwest is high.√ĄSusan A. Zappia, Maricopa Cty. Lib. Dist., Phoenix (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.