Monday, October 25, 2010

Strangers by Mary Anna Evans

If archaeology mysteries interest you, have you tried Mary Anna Evans' books yet?  Strangers is the sixth in the series to feature Faye Longchamp.  Faye, who once only collected and sold artifacts from her Florida plantation home, has finished school, finished her Ph.D., and established a company with her husband.  But, anyone who has read about Faye knows it's easy to uncover murder on an archaeological dig.

Evans' latest mystery is timely.  She introduces Faye's new career, saying, "She and Joe had started their archaeological consulting business just in time for the economy to tank, taking with it the property development industry that fueled so much archaeological work."  So, they were very lucky to find a job in St. Augustine, excavating the rear garden at Dunkirk Manor, a B & B.   Unfortunately, Faye can do not much more than supervise, since she's seven-and-a-half months pregnant.  But, she can probe the early history of the house.

The story of Dunkirk Manor only goes back to the 1920's, but the house is already supposed to be haunted.  An ancestor of the present owner hosted Hollywood bigwigs and stars at parties at the house.  One party ended in the murder of a young actress, but no one was ever found guilty.  As Faye's team uncovers a swimming pool from that era, a local librarian is hoping they uncover traces of murder.  And, Faye herself makes a discovery of great importance,  the journal of a priest who arrived in St. Augustine along with the soldiers who founded the city.

But, it's the disappearance of another young woman that causes the greatest disturbance at the house.  When the owners' secretary disappears, leaving behind blood and a collection of priceless artifacts, a local police detective must rely on Faye's knowledge for help.  He just doesn't realize the danger she's in.  Even Joe, as protective as he is, has no idea what direction the danger will come from.

Two of these storylines are intertwined beautifully.  The current disappearance, along with the actress' murder ninety years earlier, work together for a disturbing story.  Unfortunately, the story of Father Domingo seems out of place.  I found myself jarred out of the story each time his diary entries appeared, and I waited, unsuccessfully, for a link to the rest of the story.  I'm sure I must have missed it, so I'm glad I'll have the change to see the author this week, and ask her about the connection. 

I may have missed one connection, but I always learn so much from Mary Anna Evans' Faye Longchamp mysteries.  Evans' skillfully uses archaeology as her own tool to tell us about forgotten history, and forgotten people.  At the same time, she gives us a couple we've learned to care about, Faye Longchamp-Mantooth, and her husband, Joe.  I hope they have a long history together in archaeological mysteries.

Mary Anna Evans' website is http://www.maryannaevans.com/

Strangers by Mary Anna Evans.  Poisoned Pen Press, ©2010. ISBN 9781590587423 (hardcover), 250p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I requested my Advanced Reading Copy from the publisher, since I wanted to read and review it.

10 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I love it when writers include something they're passionate about in their book--weaving it in so that it adds to the novel, instead of taking away from it. It sounds like she's done a masterful job!

janet said...

I loved this book. I didn't know how she could equal "Floodgates" - but she did. She just seems keep getting better.

Lesa said...

Elizabeth,

I love Mary Anna's characters, and the opportunity she provides them to work digs in various parts of the southeast. It's been fascinating.

Lesa said...

Janet,

I love the relationship between Faye and Joe, and the expansion of Joe's role in the books. It's my favorite part of these books.

Bev Stephans said...

When I first looked at this post, I thought George Eliot had risen from the grave, but at second glance, I realized the author's middle name was Anna, not Ann.

This sounds like a book I would like to read. TBR pile keeps getting higher.

Lesa said...

Bev,

That's funny. There's no way I would review anything by George Eliot. My worst experience ever with a book was Silas Marner in high school. Hated, hated, hated it.

Bev Stephans said...

My all-time hatred in high school was Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Ubervilles. I tried reading it when I reached adulthood, but still couldn't stomach it.

Lesa said...

Bev,

I think those books that turned us off so much, when we were forced to read them, leave a lifelong aftertaste. Blah.

Kris said...

I love this cover art. The series sounds pretty good too.

Lesa said...

The series is good, Kris. And, I like that cover art for that book, too.