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


Reviews and more of Maria's works

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

Enjoy Maria's latest, the short story Pan de Muerto published in Chiricú Journal by Indiana University Press.

  • 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
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