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July 30, 2008 > Book Review: Effigies

Book Review: Effigies

By Robert A. Garfinkle

Effigies by Mary Anna Evans, (Poisoned Pen Press) 2007. Pp 301. Price $24.95, (hardback; ISBN 10: 1-59058-342-6, ISBN 13: 978-1-59058-342-5).

Gainesville, Florida author Mary Anna Evans has hit the mark with her third Faye Longchamp mystery thriller. Evans introduced Longchamp in her debut novel "Artifacts." In "Relics," Evans' 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. This third book in the series revolves around Faye and her partner Joe as part of an archeology team hired to excavate near a sacred mound in Neshoba County, Mississippi. Ancient Choctaw lore holds that these 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.

Faye is intrigued by the Native American mound across the road from where the team is digging and wants to check it for possible relics. The farmer, Carroll Calhoun, who owns the mound, refuses to let the archeologists enter his property. To prevent any digging on the mound, he tries to bulldoze it, but is stopped by outraged local Choctaws. That same night, Calhoun is murdered with his throat slit by what appears to have been a handmade stone blade. The local sheriff begins to suspect that one of the archeologists might be the prime suspect, because of their knowledge of stone tools and the tussle over not being allowed to excavate Calhoun's mound. Figuring that the sheriff suspects Faye or one of her teammates, Faye springs into her detective mode and works to find the killer.

One of the things that I really love about Evans' books is the way she keeps you guessing who the murderer is until the last few pages. Even once you and Faye know the killer's identity, Evans entangles Faye and Joe in a life or death struggle with the killer.

Once again, I take pleasure in giving a Mary Anna Evans' book my high recommendation for readers looking for a tightly constructed murder mystery. Evans' fourth Longchamp murder mystery novel, entitled "Findings," will hit the bookstores in early July. I look forward to reading that book as much as I have her previous works.

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