Desert Jade: A Letty Valdez Mystery

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Rope's End Publishing, 2017 - Fiction - 249 pages

Tucson private investigator and Iraq War veteran Letty Valdez joins forces with an unlikely ally, Chinese police Detective Inspector Zhou Liang Wei, in Desert Jade, a fast-paced mystery-suspense thriller set in the Sonoran Desert.

Letty represents the three cultures of the Borderlands: Mexican American, Native American (Tohono O'odham), and Anglo American. As an Iraq War veteran, Letty struggles every day with the trauma of the war and loss. Yet she persists valiantly in her work as a private investigator and in her role as the youthful de facto matriarch of her family. Her devotion to her parentless younger siblings cannot be overestimated.

Zhou (his name sounds like "Joe") has been sent to Arizona on the advice of Interpol to track the activities of Hong Kong triad gangsters. He has an additional task - to find Victoria Wong, the abducted daughter of a Hong Kong official. Zhou knows the lethal character of the gangsters and how they will go to any length to achieve their goals, including chopping off limbs of anyone who gets in their way. Zhou has to find the abducted girl quickly before she is murdered or sold into sex slavery.

What Zhou does not anticipate is the intense attraction he feels for Letty's friend Jade whom he meets shortly after arriving in Tucson. The attraction is mutual. Unfortunately, Jade is unaccountably in the triad gangsters' crosshairs, and she finds herself directly threatened by their violence.

Letty has another problem. She's been hired to clear the name of her new client's nephew who has been accused of murdering a local woman. Letty quickly learns of a connection between the murder and the Chinese gangsters Zhou is seeking.

We met Eduardo, Letty's little brother, who rescues a migrant girl named Esperanza whom he finds dying in the desert on the Tohono O'odham reservation. Esperanza, too, is destined to fall into the hands of the Hong Kong gangsters. And Will has a say in this story, too. Will is Letty's 17-year-old baby brother who is interested in three things: long-distance bicycling, a fellow bicycling enthusiast named Clarice, and his dog Millie -until the night that Will gets in the way of one of the Triad killers.

Then there's Milagro (aka Millie), the runt-sized female pit bull who was made into bait for a dog-fighting ring, then dumped in the hot desert sand to die when her wounds were too severe to go on. Letty finds and rescues Millie. The cheerful little rescue dog then devotes herself to two goals: to be allowed to sit on the couch with the humans; and to look out for Letty and Will's safety and well-being - which includes dealing personally with a gangster bent on killing Will. Dog lovers especially will enjoy Millie's contribution to this story.

An early reviewer said about Desert Jade, "I couldn't put this book down. I had to know what happens next!" Mystery + suspense +a touch of romance = a riveting mystery-suspense story set in the Sonoran Desert!

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About the author (2017)

C.J. Shane is a writer and visual artist based in Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A. She has worked and lived in Mexico and the People's Republic of China. She is the author of eight nonfiction books. Desert Jade is her first work of fiction. See more about her at

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