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February 13, 2007 > Relics- A Book Review

Relics- A Book Review

By Robert A. Garfinkle

By Mary Anna Evans
Poisoned Pen Press; 296 pages; $24.95

Gainesville, Florida author Mary Anna Evans has hit the mark with her second Faye Longchamp mystery thriller. Evans introduced Longchamp in her debut novel Artifacts. In Relics, Longchamp heads off to a mysterious isolated Appalachian valley in Alabama to study the history and archeology of a clan, called the Sujosa, and to discover why these people did not get AIDS even when exposed to it many times. No one outside the valley is sure where or when these people settled the area. Longchamp is intent on doing an archeological dig looking for relics that may answer to these questions, but winds up helping to solve the murder of one of her colleagues following the trail of a different kind of relic - secrets that their owners desire to keep to themselves.

The Sujosa have a secret that they want to keep and someone sets the archeologist's rental house on fire killing a member of Longchamp's team and nearly killing her as well. At first, I thought this was an accident and Longchamp was going to be the victim. An unsuccessful attempt on her life is made in the opening pages, thus Evans leads you to believe that someone is out to get Longchamp. Shortly after the death of her colleague, you learn that the deceased had collected information on the clan's secrets, but you are not sure what they will lead to. The fire marshal also determines that the fire was arson made to look like an accident. At this point the story turns from being about an archeology dig into the hunt for a murderer. Keeping things exciting is the fact that you have a multitude of potential killers and that you and Faye Longchamp have to decipher the clues as she avoids becoming victim number two.

Evans has done a magnificent job planting false trails and subplots for the reader to follow. These keep you guessing as to who or why the arsonist has struck and what is the secret at least one member of the Sujosa wants to keep to themselves. She has also created a very believable setting, including a map of the valley. You almost want to take a trip to Alabama to find this mysterious place. I highly recommend this fast-paced murder mystery to anyone who loves these kinds of novels. Ms Evans' third murder mystery novel, entitled "Effigies" will hit the bookstores in early February. I certainly look forward to reading that as well.

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