Cactus Blood: A Gloria Damasco Mystery
This faithful homage to detective fiction fusing Chicano political issues with a gripping mystery is now available in paperback.
by Lucha Corpi
Published: August 31, 2009
Cactus Blood is Lucha Corpi’s second mystery novel featuring Chicana detective Gloria Damasco. During the seventies, a young Mexican woman is raped, then exposed to pesticide contamination. Five men and two women save her and help her put her life back together. Sixteen years later, one of the men who helped her is dead, and two others have disappeared. The investigation of their disappearance leads from the 1973 United Farmworkers Strike and Grape Boycott in the San Joaquín Valley, to an old Native American ghost dancing site in the Valley of the Moon. Historic settings, California panoramas and Hispanic culture texture this suspenseful search for a ritualistic assassin.
Cactus Blood is the second installment in this ongoing mystery series which highlights women’s initiative, courage and intelligence.
“A shattering conclusion, complete with the requisite gunplay, leaves the reader eager for the next episode of this excellent homage to detective fiction.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Corpi writes convincingly about Gloria’s attempts to interpret her visions and does a fine job depicting decent people handling dangerous situations.”
“Cactus Blood is a page-turner with the political and social substance to entertain detective / mystery novel and Chicano literature enthusiasts alike.”
“There are many more Americas than the dominant media would have us believe. The community in which Lucha Corpi’s ‘detective,’ Gloria Damasco, lives in has roots going back centuries and Corpi paints it as she portrays Gloria—in all its vivid and vital complexity.”
—J. Madison Davis, President, North American branch of the International Association of Crime Writers and Edgar Allen Poe Award nominee
“Corpi weaves haunting dreams with real life nightmares to create a compelling vision.”
—Linda Grant, president of Sisters in Crime 1993-94
“Gloria Damasco is one of the most original characters in today’s mystery fiction.”
—Manuel Ramos, author of Desperado: A Mile-High Noir and The Ballad of Rocky Ruiz
For LUCHA CORPI, art has always meant activism. As a woman, a Hispanic, an immigrant and a mother, she has always found herself breaking down barriers in both life and literature. Corpi was born in 1945 in Jáltipan, Veracruz, Mexico, a small tropical village on the Gulf of Mexico into a community that fostered creativity, performances and an appreciation for music, poetry and storytelling.
In addition to poetry and mystery novels, Lucha Corpi also writes for children. In 1997, she published her first bilingual picture book, Where Fireflies Dance / Ahí, donde bailan las luciérnagas (Children’s Book Press), and The Triple Banana Split Boy / Diente dulce (Arte Público Press) will appear in 2009.
Corpi holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from UC-Berkley and an M.A. in World and Comparative Literature from San Francisco State University. A tenured teacher in the Oakland Public Schools Neighborhood Centers Program for 30 years, she retired in 2005.
Learn more at voices.cla.umn.edu/artistpages/corpiLucha.