ARC Review: Secrets of a Mayan Moon

Secrets of a Mayan Moon

Author: Paty Jager
Publisher: Windtree Press
Publication Date: March 27, 2013

Child prodigy and now Doctor of Anthropology, Isabella Mumphrey, is about to lose her job at the university. In the world of publish or perish, her mentor’s request for her assistance on a dig is just the opportunity she’s been seeking. If she can decipher an ancient stone table—and she can—she’ll keep her department. She heads to Guatemala, but drug trafficking bad guys, artifact thieves, and her infatuation for her handsome guide wreak havoc on her scholarly intentions. 

DEA agent Tino Kosta, is out to avenge the deaths of his family. He’s deep undercover as a jaguar tracker and sometimes jungle guide, but the appearance of a beautiful, brainy anthropologist heats his Latin blood taking him on a dangerous detour that could leave them both casualties of the jungle.

My Thoughts:

I always start a new book by an author I’ve never read with a sense of hope and excitement about what I might be about to discover and learn. With the good books, I never look back. With the bad…well, most of the time I do push through in hopes that it will get better. It’s truly rare that I don’t finish a book I pick up.

Within three pages, I wasn’t sure I was going to finish this book, but I ultimately did. Toward the end it was more to see just how many times my eyes rolled at the absurdity and/or obviousness of so many of the plot twists and turns.

The first time I rolled my eyes was when I learned that the heroine was 24 or so, and had received her PhD in Anthropology at age 22, having started grad school at 17 (that part I didn’t have a problem with, for the record). I’m sorry, while I get that there are definitely brilliant people, the general, average age people finish their degrees in Anthropology is the early to mid 30’s. It takes quite a long time to get a PhD. I’m willing to accept she accelerated and excelled at the program, but not that. ESPECIALLY when I learned she focused on Mesoamerican culture and the possibility that the Hopi were descended from the Mayans and yet had never left the USA as part of her training.

The second was, I think, the typo/misuse of the word “illusive”. The author was describing Isabella’s absentee father. I’m pretty sure the author should have used the word “elusive”. Illusive means illusory, an illusion. Those two things just set the tone for the entire book and wow, it got bad in places.

For such a supposedly brilliant person, Isabella was a naive idiot. After being menaced at the airport when she discovers she somehow got a box of forged passports instead of her survival vest and survival equipment, she accepts without any proof other than the fact that Tino knew the name of the guide who’d been supposed to be there that he’s there to guide her to the dig site. She waltzes merrily down an alley with a ten year old child with no suspicions that he might be leading her into a trap.

Tino really was the saving grace of this book, which needed saving. He was smart, driven by a need to avenge the deaths of his family, and an all-around decent man.

Toward the end, this book veered from being silly into just being ridiculous. We discover the “truth” about Isabella’s parents (oh lordy…), the villains come out of the woodwork (I called every single one of them long before it was anywhere near revealed), and the final line of the book, where Isabella makes a huge decision as to the direction she wants to go with her life, now that her whole worldview has been shredded after learning things about her mentor and her parents, was just unbelievable, and not in a good way.

Oh yeah, and there were paranormal elements in it for crying out loud. I don’t think this book in any way required them.

I try not to put too many negative reviews up, but this one I just had to get out there because of how ridiculous I ultimately found the story. I can safely say I’m not interested in reading the sequel, and continuing adventures of Dr. Mumphrey. Such a pity. The 2-star rating comes solely from my like of Tino’s character, nothing else.

Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


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