Whenever Native ceremonial spiritual objects like masks and statues are seen as trophy items by collectors, you can bet that black-market operatives are ready and willing to lie, cheat, and steal in order to make some tainted money.
Lucinda Schroeder writes a driving nonfiction narrative of these goings-on in New Mexico, all the more absorbing because she isn’t just an author spinning a well-researched tale; she’s a special agent who worked undercover in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and even Germany to identify wrongdoers and return the sacred objects to the Diné and Puebloan peoples, where they belong.
The book begins with the scene of a shady trader sweet-talking a recently widowed Native woman and speeding off with yei masks worth over $100,000 to collectors—though they’re irreplaceably priceless to the Navajo Nation. He gets busted a few pages later, as his story is just an appetizer. You’ll savor this deftly written page turner that educates as it entertains.