Unjustly accused in a minor sex scandal, Fr. Jon Armitage, a charismatic but brash young priest accustomed to hobnobbing with the upper crust of New England society, is exiled to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in the early 1960s. There, in the bishop's office, he discovers mediocrity and corruption to match anything from his previous situation. In his zeal, Fr. Jon again overreaches. His punishment this time is assignment to the remote parish of Nueve Ninos squatting at the edge of an ancient crater lake on the barren plains of northeastern New Mexico.In this modern retelling of the ""Book of Jonah"", Fr. Jon, like his biblical counterpart, rejects the call from God to his own 'Nineveh.' In an ironic echoing of Jonah's fate, the priest is swallowed up by a metaphorical whale and deposited on the very shores of the place he was determined to avoid. Nueve Ninos, with its long-standing reputation for mistreating its pastors, is an alien world that will prove his ultimate testing ground. Through his slow, often reluctant immersion into the lives of the villagers, Fr. Jon eventually gains insight into himself and his ultimate calling.
Gene Guerin's novel Cottonwood Saints (UNM Press) won the Mountains and Plains 2007 Regional Book Award for Adult Fiction and the 2006 Premio Aztlan for first-time Hispanic writers. Born and raised in New Mexico, he presently lives in Denver.