What Readers are Saying About The Lady in Blue: A Maria Chavez Mystery

Real people, real problems

“I was a major crimes police detective at the time. She was looking for a subject matter expert in criminal investigations and police work. We consulted on procedure for her current book and have remained in contact to this day.”

” She was looking for more than just an acceptable representation of the job,” he said. “Knowing the nature of the subject matter, she took great pains to treat law enforcement professionals with respect, recognizing their pivotal position in the larger issue of immigration and crime.this book was a labor of love for Jeanne . Working with her on it, it was clear to me that although it is a work of fiction, she really sought to communicate to the readers a sense of the real problems faced by real people in the real world through her book.”

Mark Zifcak

Wonderful narrative

“Aside from having every quality a good mystery should have, including rare character development, Lady speaks truth to those with extremist one-dimensional opinions about immigration,” he said. “She is a writer who tells a revealing and wonderful narrative, whether writing or speaking.”

Bill Cronin

Thoroughly researched

“I was excited and honored when Jeanne ask me to be one of her ‘first readers’ for “The Lady in Blue,”  and in this capacity, I discovered that Jeanne has great respect both for her readers and her subject matter. She will not betray either, and so the book and so the book evolved through several iterations, each one refining matters of consistency, characterization, and authenticity. Jeanne has researched her subject matter thoroughly and first-hand.”

Alexandrina Sergio

“Gracious lady” writes a gritty mystery

By Nancy Thompson, Glastonbury Life

“Jeanne Bonaca doesn’t seem the type to write a gritty murder mystery featuring illegal immigrants and drug lords and other unsavory characters. But Ms. Bonaca, a Vassar-educated professor emerita at the University of Hartford who is well known for her translations of Italian poetry has done just that…”
read more in the article in Glastonbury Life

Outstanding Character Development

What a great story and read!! One of the best contemporary novels that I have read. The author did an outstanding job of character development and integration in to the story. The story shows a sensitive and understanding of the problems facing undocumented and illegal immigrants in the Southwest. The book does an excellent job of creating suspense from chapter to chapter and at the same time showing an understanding of the criminal elements found in the drug scene and how it permeates various aspects of the immigrant society and its profound effects on them. Bonaca does an excellent of weaving the work of the various law enforcement agencies in joint efforts against criminal elements from within the story. The story is exciting, enticing and hard to put down once you begin reading it. Highly recommend to every one!!

Lonnie Juarez, Ph.D.

A Deeper Mystery

“Jeanne Bonaca’s novel is set in the shadow-land of the American border with Mexico where nightly, groups of immigrants overcome their fears of starvation in the desert, capture, and return by Federal Border Patrol Officers, or worst of all, brutal transformation into human mules, to smuggle drugs for the cartels that control the land south of the Border.”

“The Lady in Blue is a page-turner of short chapters and non-stop action that is depicted with the intense authenticity of one who knows the territory. The title refers primarily to a statue of the Virgin Mary in the Church of St. Theresa but it also points at times to the story’s protagonist. Maria Chavez, as a four-year old, had witnessed both parents and a brother die during a border crossing, betrayed by their guides. Saved by a border officer and adopted by an American family, she survived the ordeal to become a police officer, constantly wrestling with her childhood trauma.”

“The novel follows Maria’s work as she and her colleagues manage the moral conflicts they face every day between enforcing the law and the compassion they feel towards those risking all they have to find refuge across the border. It is a search that sears the heart. In this novel, the senselessness of many of life’s tragedies and triumphs is faced squarely.”

“The cops and crooks level of the mystery is mesmerizing to the end. Cell phones, moles, merciless violence, rival strategies, and dumb luck characterize both sides, in the competition for information (which is rarely trustworthy) and victory (which is never complete). A deeper mystery is subtly woven, unresolved, into the story. It probes humanity’s unexplainable capacity for both evil and good, and the pathos faced by ordinary people caught in the crossfire of those two propensities. Their age-old desperation is caught in a Spanish proverb, ‘La vida baja por el dren, como tierra en el fregadero.’ ‘Life goes down the drain, like dirt in a sink.’ In the end, the reader is left to ponder whether Maria’s work, or anyone else’s, makes any lasting difference.”

By Gordon S. Bates, historywire.com
November 16, 2011 posting

A promising debut

“This mystery will grab you from the opening pages. It’s an impressive debut for the novelist, and it’s easy to imagine (and hope) that we will read more about Maria Chavez, a compelling character with an intriguing back story. The story gets more and more complicated, but Ms Bonaca skillfully brings it all home”

John Merrow

A Great Read…

“Jeanne Bonaca’s first mystery/thriller album is a great read. It has two things: lots of fast-paced action (realistic and well-composed), and a bonus. It also taught me quite a bit about immigrant struggles (the heroine, a police detective–was originally an illegal immigrant) and even more about the ruthless drug trade that is terribly affecting the American Southwest.

Good dialogue, great descriptions, and interesting plot twists, too!”

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent fast-paced read with lots of action, February 15, 2011
By Prof. E. Keifer

Terror Faced by Illegal Immigrants…

“You will find your pulse racing as you accompany police patrols in the borderlands of the Southwest and enter the murky and cruel world of illegal immigration. As a police detective, Maria Chavez pulls us into her heart-rendering search for her identity, lost as a child when she became the sole survivor of a family murdered during an illegal border crossing. We struggle with her as she tries to pull together the threads of her past, while helping victims who continue to face terror as illegal immigrants, silenced by fear of discovery and abused by their own kind. A profoundly moving story that could not be more relevant today.”

5.0 out of 5 stars The Lady in Blue, January 16, 2011
By Lois Muraro

A Fine Literary Work….

“Our friendship is some eight years in length, but it’s a century or two in depth: simpatico! I had long admired Jeanne for the artistry and skill of her translations of Italian poetry, and when we finally met through mutual friends the conversation always leaped to the writing that engages us both and the books we both love to read.  Lots of crime fiction!
I was excited and honored when Jeanne asked me to be one of her “first readers” for The Lady In Blue and in this capacity I discovered that Jeanne has great respect both for her readers and for her subject matter.  She will not betray either, and so the book evolved through several iterations, each one refining matters of consistency, characterization and authenticity. Jeanne has researched her subject matter thoroughly and first-hand.  It’s what we are reading in headlines right now: borderland politics, international drug trafficking and illegal immigration, along with the enduring themes of loyalty and love and the legacy of childhood trauma.  We see these things through the eyes of the innocent, the ruthless, the hopeless and those who are charged with making things right.  The Lady in Blue is not just a good read, it’s an important read.
I am taken by my friend’s ability to write a crime novel that is, as well, a fine literary work.  She writes beautifully and perhaps someday I’ll ask her more about her sources.  For a gracious lady who makes a great cup of espresso, she knows a lot of gritty stuff.”

Alexandrina Sergio

A Compelling Heroine…

“Maria Chavez is a compelling heroine and the images of the Southwest are evocative and inspiring. An exciting mystery and complex character study of a young woman with a complicated past. Looking forward to more stories in the Maria Chavez series!”

CBP, Amazon.com reviewer

The Lady in Blue…

“I loved The Lady in Blue: A Maria Chavez Mystery. It is a gripping story, beautifully written. Once I started reading, I literally could not put it down. The characters are wonderfully drawn, complex, and truly human. The Mexican mothers described in the book are loving, strong and resilient. In telling their story, the book engenders a compassion that many in our country appear to have lost.
So much of what appears in the newspaper and on TV about immigration across the Mexican border is negative. Of course, no one should break the law, but I think many of us have lost sight of the fact that most immigrants are desperate people, risking their lives for a better life just as our forbearers did. I was left wanting to know more. The story is so timely, there is so much more to be said.
As a child in Brooklyn I lived in the parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and went to the grammar school of the same name. As you know the Virgin Mary Lady of Guadalupe is the patron saint of Mexico. My first thought upon seeing the title was that it was she to whom you were referring as “The Lady in Blue.” I learned differently I looked up the Lady in Blue on Google and discovered the wonderful story of this cloistered Abbess revered by Indians of Mexico and Texas.
Through this book, I have experienced more, over and above, than what was written. Isn’t that what truly good story gives the reader?”

NLM, Amazon.com reviewer

A Great First Novel…

“An engaging first novel, with an action-packed, fast moving story. The author brings us face to face with many complex social, legal and political issues along the U.S. – Mexican border, and on the role and responsibilities of law enforcement in any community. A tremendous amount of research went into this novel, which makes it much more than just a fictional story.”

BD, Amazon.com reviewer

A Vivid Portrayal…

The Lady in Blue: A Maria Chavez Mystery introduces the reader to the rookie police officer Maria Chavez, a complex heroine whose dedication to her profession occasionally exceeds her judgment. The fictional Southwestern town of Cuidad Nueva provides an ideal stage to introduce a number of themes from illegal drugs, to gangs to immigration. Maria is thrust into a risky drug raid that introduces an array of characters from tough narcotics police to vicious gang members. The mystery propelling the plot forward centers on the mysterious disappearance of a border pilot and subsequent threats to his bereaved family including the innocent 6 year old Ramon. The initial tension created by danger to Maria herself increases as we begin to understand the ruthless nature of the drug ringleader. If Maria is somewhat too often in grave danger the story is carried by clever plot twists and revelations. All the police actions reveal the dedication of Maria’s fellow officers.
Jeanne Bonaca’s first novel provides a vivid and sympathetic picture of hard working immigrant families struggling to raise children in an environment where gangs and drug activity put everyone in jeopardy. Ms Bonaca’s dialogue is one of the strengths of the novel. There is a ring of truth to the dialogue of the very human police officers, the Mexican immigrant mothers and finally the drug lord. I look forward to subsequent police actions as Maria grows in experience and perhaps even finds a resolution to her trauma of her past.”

A. M. Skelton, Amazon.com reviewer

Authentic Description…

“I have been a practicing psychologist for over 35 years, and during that time I have read hundreds of supposedly “good’ novels based on characters who have been inaccurately portrayed from a psychological perspective, characters who pull the plot along on a set of false premises. Such characters detract from the reader’s understanding of others and worse yet of him or herself. Furthermore, in my opinion, such falsely portrayed characters are not even necessary to create the tension and excitement that we all want from a good book.

In sharp contrast, Bonaca’s novel, The Lady in Blue, is riveting. It is like nothing else I have ever read. And yet, the author’s depiction of Maria Chavez, the hero and main character of The Lady in Blue, is absolutely authentic in its description of how deeply childhood trauma affects the rest of a child’s life. The character and behavior of Maria is completely consistent with that of someone who has lost a piece of her childhood. The way she acts, confused at times, unsure of herself, her inability to “see” the truth even when it stares her in the face, and her stubborn reluctance to face the past, all of this is completely on the money.

Maria’s struggle to recover herself is seamlessly woven into the context of illegal immigration, and it is an extraordinarily accurate analogy for like Maria, these immigrants feel uprooted and cut off from their past even as they struggle to survive in an unfamiliar world without losing the most important part of themselves,

The Lady in Blue is a real page-turner that speaks truly about the human struggle to survive desperate situations. At the same time, it keeps you on the edge of your seat. From my own experience, I can honestly say, once you start reading it, you will not be able to put it down.”

Robert T. Burnham, PhD, FACAPP
Licensed Psychologist
June 1, 2010