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Wild Penance (Wild Mystery ) Paperback – February 1, 2011

22 customer reviews
Book 4 of 4 in the Wild Mystery Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Jamaica Wild, a Bureau of Land Management agent in Taos, N.M., sees a body on a cross tossed off the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge at the start of Ault's chilling but uneven fourth Wild mystery (after 2009's Wild Sorrow), it appears to be the work of the Penitentes, a religious sect that practices penance through re-enactments of Christ's suffering. Several months earlier, Jamaica spoke about the sect with Fr. Ignacio Medina, to whom she'd shown her sketchbook devoted to the Penitentes, which later is mysteriously stolen. In one unlikely scene, a set of stage lights falls on a lingerie model in a local charity fashion show. The circumstances suggest the culprit intended to kill Jamaica, who was filling in for another model. Forest ranger Kerry Reed lends romantic interest, while medicine woman Momma Anna Santana helps Jamaica grow spiritually. Disturbing discoveries about the secretive Penitentes' past provide the cowgirl sleuth with her strangest challenge to date. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The fourth Jamaica Wild mystery finds the New Mexico Bureau of Land Management agent digging into an ancient religious cult that might not be so ancient after all. The story begins when Jamaica, out for a run one morning, sees a man falling into the Rio Grande Gorge—a man on a cross. Coincidentally, Jamaica happens to be working on a book about Los Penitentes, an old sect that practiced ritual crucifixion. And when a well-meaning but rather spooky priest suggests that Jamaica should stay far away from Los Penitentes, and (later) it looks like someone is trying to kill her, she figures the only way to put a stop to the weird goings-on is to plunge headlong into the investigation. The book feels a little contrived—Jamaica’s preexisting interest in Los Penitentes saves the author a lot of time and expository scenes, because Jamaica already knows about the sect—but overall it’s a solid entry in the series. --David Pitt --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Wild Mystery (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 334 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; Reprint edition (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425238849
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425238844
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #896,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sandi Ault is the critically-acclaimed, bestselling, award-winning author of The WILD Mystery Series. Winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award, the WILLA Award for Literary Excellence, two SPUR Finalist Awards and more, Ms. Ault is a sought-after speaker, lecturer, and writing teacher and workshop facilitator. Her standing-room-only tours and sellout performances and workshops are a favorite with fans of the West, the Wild, Wolves, the Indigenous people of North America, and those who love great writing. Sandi Ault lives and writes in the WILD West along with loving companions: a husband, a wolf, and a Missouri wildcat. Visit Sandi Ault on the web at and follow her on Facebook or Twitter @sandiault.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on February 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Bureau of Land Management Resource Protection Agent Jamaica Wild works out of the Taos, New Mexico filed office. She runs along fences to make sure there are no holes in them; if they contain rips usually means someone is doing something illegal. One morning while running Jamaica stares up at the Rio Grande Gorge bridge only to see activity where there should be none. Two men drops a cross with a man tied to it into the river below; the current takes the cross with its rider.

Jamaica believes someone wants to disguise a murder by making it look as if the ancient Christian sect Los Penitentes, who reenact Jesus' crucifixion as part of their extreme penance, committed the act. She learns the corpse is Father Ignatius who warned her to stop asking questions about Los Penitentes who react rather swiftly and ugly to inquiries and loathe outsiders asking questions about them. Three men break into her car to steal a book Jamaica is writing about this sect. A car follows her and her house is broken into. However, the trauma she faces is raised when someone tries to kill her at a lingerie show. Not one to idly sit back, Jamaica with an unexpected ally goes after her tormentor with help from the late Father Ignatius.

Fans are going to love the latest Wild thriller as we are thoroughly drawn into the world of a little known sub-culture that receives support from the masses. The sect conducts much of its practices in secret because the Catholic Church would prefer they vanish as their modern day penance is considered extreme by most people. The protagonist is a strong woman who may receive a lot of punishment, but obstinately refuses to back down as she remains dedicated and committed although the danger mounts. Jamaica is terrific, but Wild Penance is owned by Los Penitentes.

Harriet Klausner
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Edie on May 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
While Jamaica Wild was on an early morning run, she saw two men remove a cross from the back of a truck and roll it over the railing of the Rio Grande Gorge. Unfortunately, there was someone nailed to the cross at the time.

Investigators found that the cross was connected to an ancient religious group by the name of Los Penitentes. The members of the group performed excessive self-penance, sometimes to the point of death.

Seeing the cross at the bridge reminded Jamaica of the meeting she had with Father Ignacio Moradas several months before. He was an expert on the Pententes and Jamaica had been studying the history of the group, drawing sketches and keeping notes in a special journal.

Jamaica is an agent for the Bureau of Land Management. Her most recent assignment is riding the fence line during the night to check for broken links due to rustling in the area. Her new partner is a Forest Service ranger by the name of Kerry Reed.

Shortly after the incidence at the bridge, her sketch book is stolen from her car. Then she finds that someone is out to stop her from learning anything more about the Pententes. As the bodies begin to pile up, Jamaica finds her own life in danger.

Sandi Ault has written a wonderful mystery set in the Taos area of New Mexico. She writes with such beauty that the reader feels like they are a part of the landscape. The characters are written with a depth that helps draw the reader into the story and feel like a part of the action.

Wild Penance is a great read, and I really look forward to reading the rest of the series. From what I understand, this is a prequel to the other books, so I am coming into the series from a different direction. Catching up should be very enjoyable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By G. R. Miller on March 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As a reader, have you ever wondered where some of your favorite characters got their start? You know, where did they grow up; what were they like as a child; why did they choose to do what they do? Well, Jamaica Wild fans, wonder no more as Sandi Ault steps back in time with her beloved protagonist's prequel WILD PENANCE, the fourth adventure in the Wild Mystery series. Similar to authors such as Larry McMurtry, who treated his followers to two prequels in the string of LONSOME DOVE novels, Sandi escorts her admirers to the period when Jamaica bears no commitments or burdens other than her job as a BLM range rider, and the memories of family that, although she tries to restrain them, haunt her soul and beg recognition. Kerry, Mama Anna, Tecolote and Mountain wait in the wings as readers and Jamaica discover these series stalwarts together.
The Preface quote "time before time" clues readers as to the storyline to follow. Jamaica is not yet the one-man-band sleuth she develops into as the Wild series progresses, but her incurable knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time prevails when she witnesses a body swan dive from The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. In the uncertain light of early dawn, Jamaica questions whether the form is an illegal bungee jumper or a suicide...or a crucifixion as the body appears loincloth clad and lashed to a cross. She also spots two hooded individuals watch the human sacrifice plummet into the gorge and then flee from the overpass. The entire scenario reminds Jamaica of rituals once performed by Los Penitentes, an antiquated religious sect that her insatiable curiosity has compelled her to study. Merely a witness to a crime at this point, Jamaica steps aside to let the local badges do their job while she returns to hers...
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