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Book Reviews
Book Reviews



The genre of archaeological fiction is the vehicle through which many people first get involved in archaeology.  For others it is a way to stay involved.  If you're an armchair archaeologist or one who has the bad knees from hours of kneeling with your bottom towards the sky - if you're just getting involved in archaeology or have years of experience - we think you will enjoy Bill Gresens' reviews of books which highlight the realities and misconceptions of archaeology to take the reader on a journey.  And isn't that what archaeology is about - taking a journey to the past, discovering lives that we can only dream about, solving mysteries?  We hope you enjoy our book reviews and that they encourage you to take a journey filled with mystery and adventure.  Start your adventure by checking out one of the book listed below.  Enjoy!

Do you have a book you would like to recommend?  Click here to e-mail your recommendations or comments.  Please include book title, author, publisher, publication date and your comments.  Share your favorite archaeology fiction book with us today!


Meet MVAC's Book Reviewer - Bill Gresens

Bill Gresens Nick and Bill Gresens

Bill pondering his next book review.

Reviewer and son Nick at 3rd Century BC Elymean site in western Sicily.

Bill Gresens was the Grants & Contract Officer at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse for thirty some years before recently retiring. He was also a member of the MVAC Board of Directors during its first 20+ years of existence. He hopes to spend much of his retirement life working in the archaeology laboratory during the winter and doing field work during the summers.  He spends much more time than he should reading fiction that uses archaeology as a theme or backdrop.  On a fairly erratic basis he will review the archaeology and fiction books he’s recently read—including the good, the bad and the truly atrocious.


Review Rating

With the October 2004 review, we began rating the books on the basis of one to four trowels; one trowel= don’t bother, to four trowels= run right out to your local book store and buy the hard cover!


Latest Review - July 2014

Four Trowels

On the Third Day by Piers Paul Read

Review Archive

Author Title


Review Date
Ackroyd, Peter The Fall of Troy Four Trowels May 2007
Adams, Will The Alexander Cipher 3 trowels September 2009
Alcorn, Alfred Murder in the Museum of Man Four Trowels October 2009
Alexander, Tasha And Only to Deceive 3 trowels April 2009
Arnold, Margot Exit Actors, Dying April 2002
Arnold, Margot Zadok's Treasure July 2002
Asensi, Matilde The Last Cato Four Trowels June 2006
Azuski, William Travels in Elysium Four Trowels June 2013
Baron, Aileen G. A Fly Has a Hundred Eyes May 2003
Baron, Aileen G. The Torch of  Tangier Four Trowels January 2007
Bass, Jefferson Carved in Bone Four Trowels April 2007
Bass, Jefferson The Inquisitor's Key 3 trowels January 2014
Bennett, Janey The Pale Surface of Things Four Trowels August 2008
Berlinski, Mischa Fieldwork Four Trowels January 2011
Blaine, John The Golden Skull (for young readers) Four Trowels December 2012
Bonansinga, Jay Frozen 3 trowels January 2006
Bresloff, Robert The Fifth Codex (for young readers) 3 trowels May 2013
Brokaw, Charles The Atlantis Code 1 trowel July 2010
Cameron, Dana Grave Consequences January 2003
Cameron, Dana More Bitter Than Death 3 trowels May 2006
Cameron, Dana Past Malice September 2003
Cameron, Dana Site Unseen: An Emma Fielding Mystery March 2002
Cannon, Deborah The Raven's Pool Four Trowels February 2008
Child, Lincoln The Third Gate 3 trowels February 2013
Christie Mallowan, Agatha Come, Tell Me How You Live:  An Archaeological Memoir 3 trowels April 2013
Christie, Agatha Murder in Mesopotamia Four Trowels July 2009
Christopher, Paul The Lucifer Gospel 3 trowels November 2006
Cleverly, Barbara A Darker God Four Trowels November 2010
Cleverly, Barbara Bright Hair Above the Bone Four Trowels February 2009
Cleverly, Barbara The Tomb of Zeus Four Trowels April 2008
Connor, Beverly A Rumor of Bones 2 trowels December 2006
Connor, Beverly One Grave Less 2 trowels July 2011
Connor, Beverly One Grave too Many February 2004
Connor, Beverly Questionable Remains 2 trowels October 2008
Coomer, Joe Beachcombing for a Shipwrecked God November 2002
Cooper, Glenn The Tenth Chamber 3 trowels July 2012
Davidson, Lionel Menorah Men February 2003
Dawkins, Cecil Clay Dancers: A Mystery 2 trowels June 2005
de Laguna, Frederica Fog on the Mountain 4 trowels February 2007
Dietrich, William Napoleon's Pyramids 4 trowels August 2007
Doran, T.M. Toward the Gleam 4 trowels June 2012
Draine, Betsy and Michael Hinden Murder in Lascaux 4 trowels October 2012
Dungan, Marilyn Fields of Stones 2 trowels November 2004
Easterman, Daniel The Seventh Sanctuary 4 trowels May 2005
Egeland, Tom The Guardians of the Covenant 4 trowels January 2012
Elkins, Aaron Dead Men's Hearts 3 trowels April 2005
Elkins, Aaron Good Blood March 2004
Elkins, Aaron Skeleton Dance December 2001
Elkins, Aaron Uneasy Relations 3 trowels December 2008
Ellis, Kate The Blood Pit Four Trowels January 2009
Ellis, Kate The Cadaver Game 3 trowels January 2013
Ellis, Kate The Flesh Tailor Four Trowels April 2011
Ellis, Kate The Jackal Man Four Trowels November 2011
Ellis, Kate The Merchant's House November 2003
Ellis, Kate The Plague Maiden September 2004
Ellis, Kate The Shadow Collector Four Trowels October 2013
Ellis, Kate The Shining Skull Four Trowels November 2008
Evans, Mary Anna Artifacts December 2003
Evans, Mary Anna Effigies Four Trowels June 2007
Evans, Mary Anna Findings Four Trowels July 2008
Evans, Mary Anna Floodgates Four Trowels August 2009
Evans, Mary Anna Plunder 3 trowels May 2012
Evans, Mary Anna Relics 3 trowels August 2005
Evans, Mary Anna Rituals 3 trowels December 2013
Evans, Mary Anna Strangers Four Trowels October 2010
Fay, Kim The Map of Lost Memories Four Trowels July 2013
Frankos, Laura St. Oswald's Niche 3 trowels January 2010
Froese, Robert A Dark Music Four Trowels July 2007
Gerritsen, Tess The Keepsake 3 trowels August 2011
Gibbins, David Crusader Gold 3 trowels March 2008
Gibson, E.C. The Nine Lords of the Night   August 2002
Gibson, E.C. Nine Lords of the Night 3 trowels June 2009
Gold, Alan The Lost Testament June 2002
Goshgarian, Gary The Stone Circle 1 trowel October 2004
Gresens, Bill A Selected Bibliograhy - updated July 2010 No rating July 2010
Gresens, Bill Archaeology in Fiction; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly No rating March 2005
Gresens, Bill Youth Archaeology Book Reviews No rating June 2005
Griffiths, Elly A Dying Fall Four Trowels February 2014
Griffiths, Elly A Room Full of Bones 3 trowels March 2013
Griffiths, Elly The Crossing Places Four Trowels June 2010
Griffiths, Elly The House at Sea's End Four Trowels September 2012
Griffiths, Elly The Janus Stone Four Trowels September 2011
Gresens, Bill Hamilton, Lyn No rating March 2010
Hamilton, Lyn The African Quest: An Archaeology Mystery March 2001
Hamilton, Lyn The Celtic Riddle July 2001
Hamilton, Lyn The Magyar Venus June 2004
Hamilton, Lyn The Moai Murders 3 trowels September 2005
Hamilton, Lyn The Orkney Scroll 4 trowels October 2006
Hart, Erin Haunted Ground August 2003
Hart, Erin Lake of Sorrows 4 trowels January 2005
Hart, Erin The Book of Killowen 3 trowels March 2014
Hartley, A.J. Tears of the Jaguar 4 trowels November 2013
Hartley, A.J. The Mask of Atreus 2 trowels September 2006
Hoesel, Don Elisha's Bones 2 trowels May 2011
Holland, Tom The Sleeper in the Sands June 2003
Jay, Charlotte Beat Not the Bones May 2001
Joseph, Tom Song of the Tides 3 trowels December 2009
Kearsley, Susanna The Shadowy Horses May 2002
Knox, Tom The Genesis Secret 4 trowels November 2009
Knox, Tom The Lost Goddess 2 trowels November 2012
Lambert, Linda The Cairo Codex 3 trowels May 2014
Land, Jon A Wall in the Darkness June 2001
Lasky Knight, Kathryn Trace Elements 3 trowels June 2008
Lehrer, Jim No Certain Rest 3 trowels September 2007
Leston, Daniel The Amun Chamber 3 trowels August 2012
Lewis, Roy Angel of Death 3 trowels February 2011
Lewis, Roy Dead Secret January 2002
Lewis, Roy The Cross Bearer February 2002
Lewis, Roy The Shape-Shifter 3 trowels February 2005
Linnea, S.L. Chasing Eden 3 trowels December 2007
Little, Bentley The Return December 2002
MacGregor, Rob Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi March 2003
Manfredi, Valerio Massimo The Ancient Curse 3 trowels April 2014

McNay Brumfield, James

A Tourist in the Yucatan 3 trowels March 2007
Meade, Glenn The Second Messiah 3 trowels February 2012
Michaels, Barbara The Sea King's Daughter 3 trowels September 2008
Michaels, Barbara Search the Shadows  2 trowels January 2008
Morrison, Boyd The Ark 2 trowels October 2011
Navarro, Julia The Bible of Clay 3 trowels May 2009
Niko, D.J. The Tenth Saint 2 trowels June 2014
Paine, Michael Cities of the Dead July 2003
Gresens, Bill Barbara Mertz (Elizabeth Peters) Obituary No Rating September 2013
Peters, Elizabeth and Kristen Whitbread Amelia Peabody's Egypt: A Compendium April 2004
Peters, Elizabeth A River in the Sky 4 trowels September 2010
Peters, Elizabeth Crocodile on the Sandbank January 2004
Peters, Elizabeth Guardian of the Horizon May 2004
Peters, Elizabeth The Jackal's Head 2 trowels October 2007
Peters, Elizabeth The Serpent on the Crown 4 trowels October 2005
Pilgrim, Kitty The Explorer's Code 2 trowels April 2012
Praetzellis, Adrian Death by Theory: A Tale of Mystery and Archaeological Theory August 2002
Preston, Douglas The Codex 3 trowels July 2005
Preston, Douglas and Lincoln Child Thunderhead 4 trowels August 2006
Read, Piers Paul On the Third Day 4 trowels July 2014
Rees, Dilwyn The Cambridge Murders April 2003
Reichs, Kathy Cross Bones 3 trowels November 2005
Reichs, Kathy Fatal Voyage September 2001
Reichs, Kathy Grave Secrets September 2002
Reichs, Kathy Monday Mourning August 2004
Reilly, Matt Temple April 2001
Rice, Anne The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned October 2003
Riordan, Rick The Kane Chronicles, Book One: The Red Pyramid (for young readers) Four Trowels December 2010
Rollins, James Jake Ransom and the Howling Sphinx (for young readers) 3 trowels December 2011
Rollins, James Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow (for young readers) Four Trowels May 2010
Sackett, Jeffrey Stolen Souls 2 trowels February 2006
Schultze, Ray M. Beranek's Stand 2 trowels September 2013
See, Lisa Dragon Bones   March 2009
Shuman, Malcolm Burial Ground October 2002
Shuman, Malcolm The Last Mayan November 2001
Shuman, Malcolm The Meriwether Murder 3 trowels November 2007
Snyder, Gene Tomb Seven 1 trowel April 2006
Sussman, Paul The Hidden Oasis Four Trowels July 2010
Sussman, Paul The Last Secret of the Temple Four Trowels May 2008
Sussman, Paul The Lost Army of Cambyses 4 trowels December 2004
Talbot, Michael The Bog 3 trowels March 2006
Thurston, Carol The Eye of Horus October 2001
Vargas, Fred The Three Evangelists 3 trowels August 2013
Wadley, Margot The Gripping Beast 3 trowels March 2011
Wisseman, Sarah Bound for Eternity 2 trowels December 2005
Wisseman, Sarah The Dead Sea Codex 3 trowels July 2006
Wisseman, Sarah The Fall of Augustus 4 trowels February 2010
Wisseman, Sarah The House of the Sphinx 3 trowels June 2011
Wood, David Cibola 2 trowels April 2010
Wood, David Quest 2 trowels March 2012

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Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse
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All material Copyright © 2000-2014 Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

*MVAC Educational Programs are supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these programs do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
*This project was supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation.  Opinions expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Foundation.