In the second installment

The Water of Life Remains in the Dead

the reader will be immersed in Los Angeles history framed within the Chicano experience.

Pig Behind the Bear coverart

The Water of Life Remains in the Dead

Set in 1971, this book picks up where the award winning novel, Pig Behind The Bear, ends. In this stand-alone sequel the reader will be treated to a fast paced drama told with grit and undercoated with humor. The story is centered on the canny, spirited and charming Los Angeles Times reporter, Alejandra Marisol. Alejandra displays relentless tenacity as she delves into the bowels of corrupt city politics, shady real-estate transactions, and an overbearing Archdiocese to fish out the truth surrounding unspeakable crimes using the art of deduction and forensic science. Alejandra’s pursuit of justice forces her to confront the merciless eviction of Angelinos from their homes in Chávez Ravine to make way for Dodger Stadium as told through a cast of rich characters. While the story clearly demonstrates that the present is inextricably tied to the past, it does not let us forget that ordinary people have the ability to override the power of history to shape destiny.

Pig Behind the Bear art

Pig Behind the Bear

It’s 1971, one year after the killing of famed LA Times reporter, Rubén Salazar. A junior reporter, Alejandra Marisol, who works for the LA Times is asked to write a commemorative piece on Salazar in recognition of the one-year anniversary of his death. While doing work for the piece, Alejandra finds that she is embroiled in a murder mystery that appears to have ties to Rubén Salazar’s death. Alejandra uncovers a world of evil and corruption with the help of an unlikely collection of people who become heroes and who challenge us to think differently about ourselves and the world we live in; Rocky the philosophizing WWI veteran, Sumire the clairvoyant ex-Japanese internment camp prisoner, Tia (Aunt) Carmen, the wise-cracker who can wield a powerful left leg jab with a retractable prosthesis, Tony and Chucho, the neighborhood homeboys, and Gato the wonder cat. Alejandra also gets help from a dancing Jesus who feels misunderstood, and from his mom, Mary, who bestows Alejandra with a tube of lipstick that helps Alejandra unleash her inner strength. The reader will travel through streets and townships where rich Angelino culture comes to life, and where tragedy and despair are transformed into hope.
Book illustrations by Celeste McCarty : Website illustrations by Lalo Alcaraz

Photo of the author

About the Author

Maria grew up in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles and moved from the area in 1984 to attend a Ph.D graduate program in Immunology at UC Berkeley. Maria currently resides in Oakland and works as a Professor of Biology at California State University, East Bay where she has been engaged in underrepresented minority student recruitment, teaching, and research for over 27 years. As a researcher and educator Maria’s writings have taken the form of scientific journal publications, and more recently popular press articles. Pig Behind The Bear represents Maria’s first work of fiction.

literary awards logos


  •    2016 International Latino Book Awards - 1 First Place and 2 Second Place Awards for The Water of Life Remains in the Dead!
  •    First Place - Latina Themed Book
  •    Second Place - Mystery and YA Latino Focused Fiction
  • 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards - First Place in MULTICULTURAL FICTION for The Water of Life Remains in the Dead
  • 2015 Top Five Fiction Books by Latino Authors for The Water of Life Remains in the Dead
  • First Place International Latino Book Award for Pig Behind The Bear
  • Silver Medal Independent Publisher Award for Pig Behind The Bear
  • Second Place Latino Books into Movie Award (Mystery/Suspense) for Pig Behind The Bear

  • Reviews and more of Maria's works

    Before writing award winning fiction Maria published articles in immunology
    and more recently on topics of gender and sex.

    • Reviews: The Water of Life Remains in the Dead

      NEW! Sumiko Saulson Oakland Art Scene Examiner - Maria Nieto Releases Sequel to Pig Behind the Bear!
      Read the Article

      Herbert Siguenza, Playwright, actor and co-founder of Culture Clash.

      Water of Life mysteriously flows like the ancient LA River which still runs under Olvera Street, the original pueblo of Los Angeles. Water is life and has no borders, penetrating our bones and teeth to give us clues on where we were born and where we ended our path.
      Read More Siguenza

      Corina Martinez Chaudhry – CEO, The Latino Author

      Alejandra Marisol has it all, or does she? She works as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times and has been assigned to cover the story of five murdered bodies found in a truck. The homicide investigator is sure the responsible person(s) is Detective Ashworth and his Los Angeles Police Department accomplices involved in two previous murders, but Alejandra isn’t so sure.
      Read More Chaudhry

      Armando Rendón, Editor/Founder of The Latino Literary Online Magazine, Somos en escrito

      Maria Nieto has created a proto-Chicana crime reporter/solver who just gets more and more appealing.
      Read More Rendón

    • Reviews: Pig Behind the Bear

      Lucha Corpi

      María Nieto’s Pig Behind The Bear is definitely a double treat: a fast-paced mystery story and a coming of age novel. At the center of both stories is Alejandra Marisol, a young L.A. Times journalist, who is as smart and courageous as she is charming and sensitive.
      Read More Corpi

      Baltazar Acevedo y Arispe, Jr., Ph.D.

      As a professor, I am expected to write academic articles and papers about my discipline: research and organizational development. I also write about the Chicano communidad and its place in the history of the American southwest and what I refer to as the Borderlands. I am an old warrior from the ethnic struggles of the 1960’s having been active in the Chicano movement and the boycotts of the UFWOC as well as the rise of La Raza Unida en Tejas.
      Read More Baltazar

      Rosa Martha Villareal

      I was a bit skeptical when I was approached to review The Pig Behind the Bear, a crime mystery for young adults. After having spent my summer (re) reading the likes of Camus, Kafka, and Kōbō Abe, this novel caught me completely by surprise in the most pleasant manner.
      Read More Villarreal

      Herbert Siguenza

      Maria Nieto has managed to write a charming story that tackles huge cultural issues such as the assassination of Ruben Salazar.
      Read More Siguenza

    • gender signs

      Biology Based arguments in support of Same-Sex Marriage

      Marriage and Biology: Defining a Man and Woman is Harder than You Might Think.
      Read More

      Marriage and Biology: Defining a Man and Woman is Harder than You Might Think.
      Read More

      Anatomy is Destiny, Except Sometimes.
      Read More

      SCOTUS Amicus Brief
      Read More
    • Media Links and Interviews

      Professor Nieto Describes how Biology Relates to Social Justice and Diversity
      Listen to the Interview

      Oakland Tribune: Oakland Effect by Scott Johnson, November 4, 2012: Child Sex Slavery --- a horrible truth
      Read the Article

      La Bloga
      Read the Article

      Sumiko Saulson Interview
      Read the Interview

    Buy the Books

    The books are sold online with AMAZON and Floricanto Press. Or support your local book store
    and ask the proprietor to buy the book.