The Fiesta de Santa Fe fiasco.
The Zozobra bonfire, the annual New Mexico celebration during which a gargantuan puppet is ignited, leaves something gruesomely unexpected in the ashes: a baby’s skull. Detective Sergeant Gilbert Montoya of the Santa Fe police (The Replacement Child, 2008) fears that it may belong to two-year-old Brianna Rodriguez, who disappeared from a family barbecue a year ago. But the worst is yet to come. Baby teeth and toes and assorted little bones begin cropping up at church sites. If they all don’t belong to Brianna, a serial pedophile is at work demanding his 15 minutes of fame. At the same time, the Hacienda Linda apartment complex is the scene of suspicious carjackings ending in arson. Is there a connection? Montoya repeats his interviews with all of Brianna’s relatives who were present at that fateful barbecue, while newspaper reporter Lucy Newroe pauses long enough between drinks to work a few angles on her own. What emerges is a family lying about their behavior and lusts and an artist whose self-promotion ideas are garishly wacky.
Full marks to Barber for providing the mesmerizing Southwest landscape and mindset and tackling the aftermath of incest. In the end, however, the rationale for all those bone displays is too fanciful to ring true.