Mystery writer Shannon Baker’s new novel “Tattered Legacy” is set in Moab and Castle Valley. [Image courtesy of Shannon Baker]

Author Shannon Baker was having lunch with Castle Valley resident Laura Kamala at Moab’s Eklecticafé in 2012, when the storyline of what would become her third novel in the Nora Abbott mystery series came to her.

At the time, Kamala was working on a film project for the Grand Canyon Trust – a documentary designed to sway the American public to take action in protecting public lands surrounding Canyonlands National Park.

“She was looking for new ideas; I started spinning yarns about what I was doing,” Kamala said. “I found out later (when she read a draft of the novel) many events had been fictionalized.”

That draft became “Tattered Legacy,” whose tagline is, “Protecting the wilderness can be deadly.”

Midnight Ink, a publisher specializing in suspense novels, released the book on March 2.

While one character in the book is working on a similar film project, she bears no resemblance to Kamala, Baker said.

The real (and fictional) film projects were controversial, and in the novel, the fictional character Lisa is killed under mysterious circumstances. While Kamala didn’t feel her life was in danger, there were plenty of people who would have liked to kill the Protect Greater Canyonlands project, Baker said.

Readers may recognize scenes from the novel set in Arches National Park and Moab.

The story shows “someone is desperate to keep the secrets of the land hidden. When Nora’s best friend is found dead, she’s convinced the death wasn’t an accident. Nora uncovers an unlikely intersection of ancient Hopi legends, a secret polygamist sect and one of the world’s richest men,” according to a news release.

Baker conferred with two Hopi acquaintances for feedback on how Hopi culture is portrayed in the mystery series, she said. The first book, “Tainted Mountain,” is set in Flagstaff, Arizona, and is about a controversy regarding a ski resort and Native Americans who consider the mountain sacred. The book is a New Mexico/ Arizona Book Awards finalist. Baker’s second novel, “Broken Trust,” is set in Boulder, Colorado.

“I keep setting books in places I really like to visit,” Baker said.

While the main characters of “Tattered Legacy” live in Castle Valley, and some “dramatic events occur,” the book itself is “very fictionalized,” including the portrayal of a wild polygamist sect that is nothing like people in Moab, Kamala said.

“It’s a great read – very entertaining,” Kamala said. “I love Shannon’s books. She has a great sense of humor. She’s very creative in this murder mystery genre.”

Baker is Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2014 Writer of the Year. The nonprofit, volunteer-run organization is dedicated to supporting, encouraging and educating writers seeking commercial publication. There are 651 active members across the Rocky Mountain states, as well as some from overseas, said former RMFW vice-president Vicki Rubin.

The award is given to a member who has published a book in the past year and has gone out of the way to help other writers.

“Every year we look at all of our writers,” said Bonnie Ramthun, former chair of the RMFW nominating committee. “We (narrowed it down to) three authors; then the entire membership votes on who they think it should be.

“I am so happy to see Shannon’s books succeed. They’re wonderful books and have been well-received, and loved.”

Baker and her husband are currently in the process of relocating to Tucson from Nebraska – where she said she plans to set her next mystery series.

There are no book signings scheduled thus far in Moab, though Baker will appear at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Grand Junction, Colorado, on Wednesday, March 18 at 7:30 p.m. The Grand Junction Barnes & Noble is located at 2451 Patterson Road, just across the street from the Mesa Mall.

“Tattered Legacy” offers thrilling twist on Greater Canyonlands debate

To learn more about the Nora Abbott mystery series, visit: