Monday, July 28, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Findings by Mary Anna Evans

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Findings by Mary Anna Evans. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Findings by Mary Anna EvansBuy from Amazon.com

Findings by
A Faye Longchamp Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-483-X (159058483X)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-483-5 (9781590584835)
Publication Date: July 2008
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): Faye Longchamp is overjoyed to be paid to do archaeological work she would have done anyway—excavating a site that was once her family’s. That joy ends abruptly when intruders break into a dear friend’s house and leave him dead among the scattered remains of Faye’s artifacts. But the open wall safe is untouched, and choice artifacts are left in their cases.

There seems to be no motive at all for the vicious crime…unless the thieves were aware of the fabulous emerald he had been holding minutes before his death. But Faye had only uncovered it that very evening, and she had told no one.

When his widow asks Faye to organize the relics left broken on the floor, Faye realizes that something is actually missing—not an emerald nor a valuable painting, but her field notes.

Faye seeks out the story behind the mysterious emerald. How was her fieldwork connected to her friend’s death? The key to all her questions must be buried in the field notes now held by the killers. Now, it is only a matter of time before they come for Faye.

Review: Archaeologist Faye Longchamp investigates a mystery dating back to the Civil War on her own beloved island of Joyeuse in Findings, the fourth book in this consistently outstanding series by Mary Anna Evans.

Faye is heartbroken when thieves break into the home of Douglass Everett who dies after being beaten by two men. Douglass was more than an employer; he was her friend, role model, and father figure. His death is all the more puzzling since nothing of value was taken. Ironically, the most valuable thing in his possession was something that Faye had only just discovered, a large, beautifully cut emerald that had been found, caked in mud, on Joyeuse. And it was found undisturbed on his body. To Faye's surprise, her field notes are missing but they would mean little to anyone else. Soon thereafter, another friend, Wally, is stabbed and dies literally in Faye's lap. His final words whispered to her, "Remember. Before.", make no sense to her. Yet she's convinced the deaths of these two men in her life are connected to the emerald she found on her island. Researching the gem she uncovers a series of letters between Jedediah Bachelder and his wife Viola, written during the years of the Civil War. And it cannot be a coincidence that the area has seemingly been overrun with amateur pothunters looking for relics from battles long ago. It isn't long before Faye makes the connection and realizes that not only is her life in danger, but also those closest to her.

Evans is a master at weaving history into her mysteries and creating intricate yet credible plots that entice and delight even the most jaded mystery readers. And with Findings she adds another element to her stories: romance. The integration of the love triangle between Faye, Joe, and Ross into the mystery isn't totally successful, though; at times they seem to interfere with and take away from the other, a case where the total is less than the sum of the parts. Arguably the well crafted love story between Viola and Jedediah is far more touching and a more integral part of the plot. Still, as a mystery, Findings is first rate. Much of the credit here is due to the depth of character development and the subtle clues that Evans leaves in unexpected places. While the solution to the whodunit aspect of the book will undoubtedly surprise many readers, the resolution of the love triangle is never in doubt.

As she has previously done, Evans offers additional background to her book in an informative appendix titled a Guide for the Incurably Curious: Teachers, Students and People Who Just Plain Like to Read.

Special thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for providing the ARC of Findings for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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