NEW MEXICO: Cricket Coogler's Revenge

At 18, pretty, ignorant little Ovida ("Cricket") Coogler was a product of New Mexico's political corruption. Her world did not include the Southwest's fabled wide-open spaces. Cricket had been a barfly since she was 14. She had her good points—she helped support her widowed mother and worked hard as a waitress. But, like many another teenager, she was chiefly interested in excitement, romance and escape from throttling poverty.

In prosperous, sun-baked Las Cruces (pop. 13,500), an agricultural town 30 miles from the Texas border, Cricket had little trouble finding a variety of...

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