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Mary Sojourner. Torrey House (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (350p) ISBN 978-1-937226-35-0

This standout ecological novel from Arizona author Sojourner (Going Through Ghosts) features picturesque prose, a vivid western setting, and sharply drawn characters. Fifty-five-year-old Nell Walker is fired from her lucrative job as an accounts executive at a pharmaceuticals marketing firm during the 2008 economic downturn. With only $600 to her name, she leaves L.A. on a Greyhound bus and broods over her estranged mother, Tara, who is a “petty dope dealer,” and her broken office affair with David. After arriving in the arid, scorching town of Twentynine Palms, Calif., in the Mojave Desert, Nell finds lodging at La Paloma, a women’s shelter, and employment as a bookkeeper at an auto repair shop run by Monkey Barnett, a “shade tree mechanic” and “Okie stoner.” Monkey is married to Jackie, an RN at a retirement home and a part-time artist. Nell and Monkey banter in the workplace, where she discovers that he has apocalyptic visions, perhaps related to the impending environmental peril facing Twentynine Palms. After Nell befriends Mariah, a local Chemehuevi Native American, they visit her sacred tribal path, where she reveals that FreegreenGlobal, an international solar energy conglomerate, is trying to build a facility on their property. Nell decides to help Mariah in the defense of her people’s land and rediscovers her own identity in the process. (Aug.)