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Hired by the Bureau of Land Management, Millie Whitehall travels to the harsh environment of northwest New Mexico’s high desert. Driving treacherous roads and avoiding rattlesnakes become the least of her worries. What Millie expects to be a peaceful summer turns into a chaotic hunt for a ruthless killer.
Millie experiences the friction of working for the BLM through the characters she meets—a secretive cowboy, friendly oil and gas hand, out-spoken environmentalist, foreign tourist, and a cheeky Navajo biologist. Some of these become allies, one ends up threatening her life.
When autopsies reveal the seemingly unrelated deaths involve plants, Millie draws on her knowledge of ecology as she races to investigate the murderer—before she becomes the next victim.
About the Author
Vicky Ramakka grew up on a farm in upstate New York which sparked an early interest in plants and animals. She has spent most of her career in higher education in the western US while her husband worked as a wildlife biologist for the Bureau of Land Management. During her career, she published in academic journals, wrote numerous grant applications and reports and a variety of marketing materials. She now she writes about the Four Corners region, where she claims she meets the most fascinating people, who are always willing to share their stories. Her publications have won awards from the New Mexico Press Women. She currently lives in northwest New Mexico with her husband, where Vicky writes and enjoys photographing the flora and fauna that reside in her “back yard” which she considers any place within a mile walk.
"This book could be the seed of a new series of mysteries set in our beautiful Southwest." — Anne Hillerman, New York Times best-selling author of the "Chee-Leaphorn-Manuelito" series.
"Vicky Ramakka’s page-turner, The Cactus Plot does an excellent job at capturing the sense of place and people of Northwestern New Mexico." — Jonathan Thompson, environmental journalist and author of River of Lost Souls: The Science, Politics, and Greed Behind the Gold King Mine Disaster
"Vicky is very descriptive in her mention of Navajo places and events, such as the Shiprock Flea Market. You can just imagine the colorful items, the smells in the air and hear the children wandering among shoppers." — Elaine Benally, Director, San Juan College West
"Ramakka, who lives in Aztec, has written a revealing tale of her home territory. Local environmental journalist Jonathan Thompson...says Ramakka’s mystery “does an excellent job of capturing the sense of place and people of northwestern New Mexico, along with the ins and outs of oil and gas development there.” —Scott Graham, Four Corners Free Press
"This is a delicious, layered Cozy Mystery/Women Sleuth paperback. Tall, gangly young Millie Whitehall takes a job as a botanist for the BLM to survey endangered plants in Four Corners country, New Mexico. An archeologist has just plunged off a cliff and died. But fellow BLM worker, Momma Agnes says, "That don't make sense ... He was strong as an ox and knew the back country better than most." This suspicious death is followed by two more. Millie learns about fracking, contradictions in federal policy and how an oil field hand can back off from a rattlesnake. She is introduced to wild mustangs, Monster Slayer and Changing Woman, and how to make Navajo fry bread. The characters are vivid and eager to share their stories, but the plot is slow to develop. Nevertheless, it's an informed cultural and ecological immersion rolled up in a mystery. Four stars." —Phaedra Greenwood, enchantment Magazine