Lucy shifted from foot to foot in the dark, not sure what to expect next. She had to admit she was a little bit anxious. She had never been to Zozobra before, but then she’d only lived in Santa Fe for a year and a half. Her boss, Harold Richards, who had been city editor at the Capital Tribune for the past twenty years, described it as “a bunch of people standing around while they torch a big puppet.” She hadn’t believed him at first. It had sounded so silly—and so pagan in a city as Catholic as Santa Fe, whose very name means “Holy Faith.”
Still, Zozobra had been a Santa Fe tradition for more than eighty years. It was the opening salvo in the fiesta party arsenal. The actual Fiesta de Santa Fe didn’t begin until tomorrow. Like any good Catholic celebration, the weekend started with the fires of salvation and ended in acts of sin. Tonight was about redemption. Tomorrow was about partying your ass off.
The Bone Fire Christine Barber 2010 Minotaur Books (Thomas Dunne) e-edition
I reviewed this book yesterday so I don't want to waste too much time explaining the plot. This is from very early in Chapter 1 - the set up for the rest of the novel. It turns out there's a child's skull inside the burning effigy and it starts a major murder investigation. Getting essential information into a story without losing the flow is a key skill. I admire the way Barber sums up all you need to know in the phrase “a bunch of people standing around while they torch a big puppet” and how she introduces it. The rest is pure atmosphere.