|Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico|
“Monuments” is an award-winning ten-minute play set in Santa Fe, New Mexico during the hot summer protests of 2020. The iconic city is also home base for new medical detective Dr. Maya Maguire in the MayaVerse, an alphabetical mystery series. A twenty-five-year-old veterinarian hired by the CDC for a prestigious two-year public health training program, Maya is over her head as she investigates disease outbreaks while attempting a personal life for the first time.
In the debut novel, Bacillus anthracis bacteria infect Texas livestock but are new to Arizona with the collapse of a teenage Hopi sheepherder. Maya’s fieldwork takes her to spectacular remote locations of Keams Canyon and wildlife refuges along the Mexican border. More anthrax infections and deaths emerge from a Christmas-themed petting zoo, a Native American Pow Wow, and the largest livestock show in Arizona.
Maya’s chapters interchange with the mysterious diary of a young boy who fancies a veterinary career while he becomes indoctrinated into hatred of anyone different. As timelines collide, passions bloom in the ancient ruins of Bandelier National Monument and Chaco Canyon. Warm friendships are intensified in Santa Fe’s plaza and Canyon Road with the farolitos and Las Posadas of Christmas. Maya rejoices in her work placement immersed in the Southwestern landscapes and traditions of her Arizona childhood.
Physical challenges from horseback riding and rough jeep trails exacerbate panic and pain from metal pins inserted after a childhood accident. Maya is supported in her journey as a “fish out of water” Chinese American in the Southwest by her loving but intrusive adoptive family. She’s buoyed by furry cuddles with her grandma’s Persian cat and her veterinary colleague’s Labrador retriever. Her mental health challenges are counteracted by Broadway musicals, especially Hamilton. How fortunate that the intriguing physician working for the Indian Health Service resembles Lin-Manuel Miranda, the musical’s creator and star.
Anthracis: A Microbial Mystery launches Maya’s worldwide travels as a statistics nerd maturing into medical detective leadership with life-changing personal connections. Along with suspense and medical thriller aspects, each novel provides its readers a rewarding HFN—happy for now—conclusion with a hint of foreshadowing to the next disease threat.
As the veterinarian author of the MayaVerse, I share with readers the excitement and fascinating science of invisible microbes, a specialty during my epidemiology career. Expanding the medical detective world to veterinary public health provides enriching new fictional challenges, characters, and settings. One Health is the concept that humans, animals, and the environment are intricately tied together, and changes like weirding weather impact us all.
Like my character, I lived most of my life in the Southwest. My (and Maya’s) favorite Northern New Mexico cuisine includes blue corn green chile chicken enchiladas with sour cream. Regular corn wrappings will not do. They must be blue corn, grown that color and not dyed. The blue corn provides a rich nutty flavor. Ideally the chiles should be from Hatch, New Mexico, where fall roasting gives off fumes so strong your eyes will burn. Many consider green chiles to be the most flavorful, although you can also order “Christmas” at any time of the year, which is a mix of red and green chiles. To make your own blue corn enchiladas with red chile sauce, see https://www.sfshed.com/pages/video-recipes
The MayaVerse is an innovative mashup of Tess Gerritsen and Tony Hillerman with cozy mystery elements interrupted by bouts of terror. Please join Maya and me on her journey, including the free MayaVerse prequels and side stories available on my website. Those joining the Reader list will receive “Monuments” as a free ebook.
Anthracis: A Microbial Mystery
MayaVerse, Book 1
The spectacular southwestern desert is alive with Bacillus anthracis spores, and the summer is the hottest on record. As a new veterinary epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Maya Maguire confronts the largest, most complex anthrax outbreak in U.S. history.
Infections in persons of color and immigration activists resonate with Maya’s search, as a Chinese American adoptee, for a place in her American home. Younger than her fellow trainees and battling panic disorder from a horrific childhood accident, she struggles to solve an epidemic mystery in a physician-dominated public health world. From her home base in New Mexico, CDC sends her to join a federal team in Arizona, including provocative physician Dr. Manolo Miranda and tightlipped veterinarian Dr. Dave Schwartz.
The epidemic is linked to climate change—that’s the party line. But Homeland Security agents and the FBI are suspicious. Dave’s an anthrax expert and spores match his home Texas Triangle of Death.
An invisible enemy, team secrets, and romantic missteps may derail Maya’s confidence. If she can’t find the source, thousands could perish from anthrax-laced heroin and tainted milk. Anthracis takes us to the front lines with scientists betting their lives and relationships on the investigation outcome.