By: Dana Cameron
Avon Books, New York
2003 (hc and pb)
Iíve come to wait with great anticipation for the Emma Fielding
mysteries, penned by real-life archaeologist Dana Cameron. Her debut
novel, Site Unseen, was a very tightly written work that
incorporated interesting characters in an interesting situation, with lots
of good archaeology (both as a science and as a way of life) that allowed
the reader to get an accurate picture of what field work is likeóplus it
was a darn good murder mystery. Her second Emma Fielding mystery, Grave
Consequences, followed the pattern set by the earlier work and proved
to be an entertaining mystery set in England.
In this, the third in the series, Emma Fielding returns to the United
States and a summer historic archaeology project in Stone Harbor,
Massachusetts. Emma and her graduate student crew have barely begun their
project when the bodies begin to pile up like cordwood. The first victim
is a young and very well liked (by most people, at least!) security guard
at the historic Chandler Houseódiscovered by Emma. Shortly thereafter
one of the members of the remarkably dysfunctional Stone Harbor Historical
Society is found deadóagain by Emma.
Once again the yarn spun by Dana Cameron is a good one and the mystery
an engaging tale. But there doesnít seem to be enough story to sustain
the novelís 356 pages. There are lengthy digressions into Emmaís
relationship with her rather flaky younger sister and marital stresses
brought on by her inclination to get involved in murder investigations.
Perhaps these sideshows will play important roles in mysteries yet to
come, but neither seems to fit particularly well within the plotline of
this book nor do they move the story on. They seem to exist primarily to
expand a good 180-page mystery into a sometimes-plodding 350+ page work.
Nonetheless, I must admit that Iím looking forward to the fourth Emma
Fielding mystery and I hope Dana Cameron re-captures the magic of the
first two entries in this series.
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