Review for MOKI STEPS
Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer
MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
>>November 8 issue
A fast-paced, vividly realistic adventure story that tests character connections, motivations, choices, and chance. It's never a good idea to go into the canyons alone. But Mackenzie has an entire support group behind her: J. Reed Rich's readers of MOKI STEPS.
Mackenzie Campbell has better things to do than stand in front of a class of reluctant young learners begging them to properly diagram a sentence. She's a professor of linguistics at a fine university who has built a reputation as an expert in Uto-Aztec languages. Why is she wasting her time participating in a failed educational experiment with a group of reticent eighteen-year-olds?
The call from an ex-boyfriend comes out of the blue and promises a big discovery that will change everything; but just as sudden are a series of events that cause him to go missing, leading her on an expedition to a slot canyon which holds more than a few questions. Can an old Navajo woman's letters lead to a cache of gold hidden by the Aztecs as Cortês massacred them?
Predictably, there's a treasure map - and equally inevitable are the reasons why Charlie's discovery are certain to lead straight into danger. Less clear, at first, is Mackenzie's role in this process; but motivated by the promise of a research trip of a lifetime and a discovery that would add to her credentials, the professor soon finds that love and achievement in this case run hand in hand, straight into deadly danger.
One of the strengths of MOKI STEPS lies in its ability to build fine tension right from the start with a series of logical events. Take a self-proclaimed "nerdy" professor who feels stuck in both career and personal choices, take her out of her familiar world of academia and on the field trip of her life, and add romance into escalating intrigue. Stir. Then capture the culture and sense of place of the slot canyon lands of Arizona and add an elusive enemy. The result is an exploration that excels in vivid descriptions of place as it leads readers step-by-step through Mackenzie's adventure.
The physical challenges of a rugged journey are well described, the psychological makeup of a band of explorers is probed, and tension escalates into ambushes, gunmen, and confrontations between different special interest groups.
The result is a fast-paced, vividly realistic adventure story that tests character connections, motivations, choices, and chance. It's never a good idea to go into the canyons alone. But Mackenzie has an entire support group behind her: J. Reed Rich's readers of MOKI STEPS.