Title: A Pilgrimage to Death
Author: Alexa Padgett
About A Pilgrimage to Death:
Cici Gurule is a freewheeling, progressive reverend who’ll stop at nothing to protect her flock. When she finds the dead body of a parishioner in the nearby Santa Fe National Forest, she’s horrified to realize the victim bears the same stab wounds that ended her twin sister’s life one year earlier.
Together with her detective friend and loyal pair of Great Pyrenees, she vows to hunt down the killer before she’s forced to officiate another funeral. Soon, however, Cici discovers her sister was on the trail of a deep-rooted criminal operation… and her death was no random act of violence.
Now that the criminals are out for Cici’s blood, the pastor must catch the wolf by the tail before it goes in for the kill.
A Pilgrimage to Death is a high-octane mystery thriller. If you like motorcycling sleuths, fast-paced action, and a dash of humor, then you’ll love Alexa Padgett’s edge-of-your-seat novel.
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“Do you know who that is?” she asked, trying to keep her voice level. Hard to do with the adrenaline dump that now pumped through her veins. She didn’t need that spot in her head pinging danger! for Cici to realize the black beast of a truck growling mere feet from her doorstep meant trouble.
Justin shook his head as he half-stepped in front of her, causing the hairs on Cici’s arms to rise. He might not know the person in the truck—hard to see through the dark tint—but the vehicle clearly upset him as much as her.
Mona backed up against Cici’s leg while Rodolfo tugged at the end of his leash, his snarl deep and guttural.
The driver’s side window rolled down about three inches. Cici squinted, but all she made out was a dark beanie pulled low over the person’s eyebrows, and large, black plastic sunglasses.
The person threw something out the window. Rodolfo leaped forward, tugging the leash from Cici’s hand as she flinched back. The dog sprinted toward the truck.
“Rodolfo, heel!” Cici called. The dog quivered to a halt, whining, as the truck’s engine roared. Within seconds, it sped down the street.
Cici’s breathing remained labored as she hurried forward, snatching up Rodolfo’s leash. The dogs whined again and nuzzled against her, bumping her hips with their heads.
Justin snatched the paper from the street. He stood there, at the curb, scanning the message.
“Did you get the license plate?” Cici asked.
Justin shook his head, still staring after the truck. “Covered in mud or something.” He swallowed, glanced down at the paper in his hand.
“What does that say?”
“I’m not sure you should read it.”
“Not really your choice.” Cici switched the dog leash to one hand and held out her free one. “The person came to my home. The message is clearly for me.”
Justin handed it over with obvious reluctance.
Your sister didn’t know when to stop snooping.
"Vivid, alluring, and heart-wrenching, Alexa Padgett's A Pilgrimage to Death is every reason I love mystery. A breathtaking tale."
--Darynda Jones, NY Times Bestselling Author
A reverend in New Mexico tries her hand at sleuthing when a recent homicide shares similarities with her twin sister’s unsolved murder in this mystery.
Cecilia “Cici” Gurule’s weekly hike with her detective friend Sam Chastain is cut short by a missing hiker report. Sadly, the two find lawyer Donald Johnson, who’s unmistakably dead from stab wounds. But it’s one particular laceration that most unnerves Cici: through the kidney, just like the stabbing death of her twin, Anna Carmen, over a year ago. This is followed by Cici’s vision of her sister, who tells the reverend to help Sam identify her killer. Cici, who quit as associate reverend in Boston to return to her Santa Fe hometown after her sister’s murder, now heads a local church. She gathers information, initially from her parishioners, but doesn’t like where it’s leading her. That’s because linking the two murders naturally connects Anna Carmen to Donald’s alleged exploits, from an affair to drug trafficking. It’s soon apparent, however, that the killer is watching Cici, as she receives threatening messages and eludes a menacing truck in pursuit. But this doesn’t deter the reverend, who, with Sam’s assistance, plans to see her personal investigation to the end. Padgett’s (A Moonlit Serenade, 2018, etc.) series opener, like any good detective story, gives readers a laudable sleuth. Cici is a chic woman of God: She swears and rides a vintage Harley. But her profession makes her an exceptional detective as well. Characters, for example, often seem reluctant to talk to Sam and more easily respond to the reverend. Likewise, Cici’s empathy is genuine; she speaks a line like “I need you to tell us what happened” with unequivocal concern. Despite her occasional colorful language, there are few curses and mostly implied violence. Padgett’s simple prose and short paragraphs help maintain the story’s unwavering pace. Add to that a handful of dubious characters, and the result is a rock-solid mystery with a smashing reveal near the end and even a subtle twist in the final pages.
A wholly absorbing gumshoe tale elevated by an extraordinary detective.
-Kirkus Starred Review
With a degree in international marketing and a varied career path that includes content management for a web firm, marketing direction for a high-profile sports agency, and a two-year stint with a renowned literary agency, award-winning author Alexa Padgett has returned to her first love: writing fiction.
Alexa spent a good part of her youth traveling. From Budapest to Belize, Calgary to Coober Pedy, she soaked in the myriad smells, sounds, and feels of these gorgeous places, wishing she could live in them all—at least for a while. And she does in her books.
She lives in New Mexico with her husband, children, and Great Pyrenees pup, Ash. When not writing, schlepping, or volunteering, she can be found in her tiny kitchen, channeling her inner Barefoot Contessa.
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