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by Mary Anna Evans
Poisoned Pen Press, January 2007
270 pages
ISBN: 1590583426

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Faye Longchamp is an archaeologist who lives on an island in Florida. She and her friend Joe Wolf Mantooth are the only two inhabitants of the little island. Faye has honed her interest in archaeology by excavating sites on the island which has been occupied for generations by her ancestors.

By virtue of her hard work and determination, Faye has been able to study archeology and is continuing her work on an advanced degree. She is the descendant of a mixed background Ė not only the slaves but also their masters are her ancestors, and she also has some Native American blood. When she is invited to work on a site in Mississippi near an area sacred to the Choctaw nation, she jumps at the chance.

Joe, while not formally schooled, is an expert on stone weapons and he is also part of the team. A former professor of Fayeís is leading the excavation and she is delighted to be working with Dr Mailer again.

There is a highway project being held up during the search for Native American artifacts and not everyone is thrilled to have the archeologists digging up the past. The Choctaw in the area are concerned that their sacred sites will be impacted. The rest of the residents of Neshoba County are convinced that the project will not be completed and will hurt their livelihoods and their dependence on good roads for transport to the larger cities.

A farmer who owns large tracts of land has his property end near the site of the digging. On his land is a mound, much overgrown, that the archeologists find interesting and they speculate it may be an ancient burial mound. However, the man who owns the property is adamant that no one will trespass on his land and he threatens to bulldoze the mound if people donít leave him alone. No one seems to like him much and when his body is found, itís no surprise that he is dead, but rather which one of his enemies could have done the deed.

Faye is concerned that her friends on the archeology team will be suspects. The victimís throat was cut with an old stone weapon and she worries that Joe may be implicated. Also, none of them really have alibis and she is sure that the sheriff is looking at them with more than casual interest. Faye has had opportunities in the past to assist in bringing a murderer to justice and she believes that her help is required again in this instance.

The book is interesting for the history and archeological details that the author imparts to the reader. The characters are interesting and well-developed for the most part, especially the local sheriff. A couple of the lesser characters are not, but Faye and Joe, the main protagonists, are known to readers of the previous two novels. The first two books are set in Florida, but in EFFIGIES the author has returned to her home state.

Reviewed by Lorraine Gelly, January 2007

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