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November 26, 2008 > Book Review: Findings

Book Review: Findings

By Robert A. Garfinkle

Findings by Mary Anna Evans, (Poisoned Pen Press) 2008. Pp 272. Price $24.95, (hardback; ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-483-5).

Gainesville, Florida's award-winning author, Mary Anna Evans, has hit the bull's-eye with her fourth Faye Longchamp mystery thriller. Evans introduced Longchamp in her debut novel Artifacts. In Relics, Ms. Evan's second Longchamp book, her protagonist headed 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.

Her third book in the series, Effigies, revolved around Faye and her partner Joe as members of an archeology team hired to excavate near a sacred mound in Neshoba County, Mississippi. Ancient Choctaw lore holds that their people arose from such sacred mounds and the locals are not too happy to have archeologists (grave robbers in their eyes) digging up their ancestor's bones and relics. In Findings, Faye and Joe are at her ancestral home on Joyeuse Island near the Florida coast.

One evening, Faye, working in the lab at the museum she works for, cleaned mud from an object that she had recently extracted at an archeology dig. She discovers that it contains a large finely cut emerald. Later that evening the owner/director of the museum is beat-up and killed in the lab. Faye learns that the director had hidden the emerald and the thief, or thieves, did not get the gem, but apparently only stole Faye's notebooks. Thus Faye is thrust into another hunt for the murderer of a friend. Within days, another friend is killed, but as the man is dying in her arms, he hands Faye a clue to something.

Unraveling the mysterious clue soon leads Faye to do research at a university library's rare book room, where she discovers that the emerald was part of an historic necklace that apparently was buried at Joyeuse Island during the Civil War by a leader of the Confederate States government. While working at the library, someone cuts her car's brake line and Faye is almost killed when she is unable to stop her car on the road home.

Lacking her notebooks, Faye is not sure of exactly where on her island she dug up the gem, but it does not take long for two treasure hunters to arrive on Joyeuse and begin digging without her permission. Are these people tied to the killer? Faye does not know, but more trouble soon arrives.

Ms. Evans keeps you on the edge of your seat, even after the killer is revealed. For most murder mysteries the book usually ends very quickly after the big reveal; not with a Mary Anna Evans book. After the big reveal, the last 50 pages or so rushes by as Faye and Joe must struggle to protect their lives from the killer. This is one aspect of Ms. Evans stories that I thoroughly enjoy - watching the protagonist use her wits to get herself out of mortal danger.

Once again I take great pleasure in giving a Mary Anna Evans' Faye Longchamp book my high recommendation for readers looking for a tightly constructed murder mystery.

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