Wild Penance (Wild Mystery #4) by Sandi Ault.*
Although this is the fourth of the Jamaica Wild mysteries to be published, the events in this story actually take place before the other three.
Jamaica Wild, a resource protection agent for the Bureau of Land Management (Taos Field Office), is out for her morning run when she sees a body on a cross falling off a cliff into the Rio Grande Gorge.
Jamaica soon makes the connection between this incident and Los Penitentes, a secret, nearly forgotten religious group she's been researching. But would the members of the sect really try to kill her in order to keep from learning about them?
Jamaica is well-realized as an introspective loner who becomes more social as the story progresses, especially when she meets handsome forest ranger Kerry Reed (who eventually becomes her significant other). But, what makes the book really outstanding is Ault's glorious descriptions of southwestern landscape and history.
*FTC Full Disclosure: Many thanks to the publisher, who sent me a copy of the book for review purposes.