By: Mary Anna Evans
Poisoned Pen Press: Scottsdale, AZ
October 2010 (HC)
Mary Anna Evans’s sixth Faye Longchamp novel continues
her string of elegant mysteries that features one of contemporary fiction’s
most appealing heroines. The author also continues to seek out and to
describe settings and locations that would whet the excavating appetite of
any practicing or armchair archaeologist.
Strangers opens with Faye in possession of a
newly-minted PhD in archaeology, a new husband on the person of the strong
and silent Joe Wolf Mantooth, and a brand new business—archaeological
consulting, or CRM (cultural resource management) as it’s known in the
trade. She is also very much with child—about a month away from giving
birth to her and Joe’s first baby. This first contract job takes Faye and
her crew to excavate the backyard of an historic concrete-poured mansion
(Dunkirk Manor--now a B&B) in St. Augustine, Florida—the oldest continuously
populated city in North America. Because of St. Augustine’s very strict
laws governing historic preservation, the B&B owners, Daniel and Suzanne
Wrather are required to have their property archaeologically surveyed before
they can construct a backyard swimming pool.
While a project like this could prove to be rather
mundane, it does represent Faye’s first foray into the business world
as a contract archaeologist, it does pay the bills, and in a city
some 400 years old, there is lots of archaeology everywhere!
Mary Anna Evans then commences to weave an almost
mystical tapestry of mystery throughout her novel. There is the fabulous
discovery of a journal penned by a 16th Century Catholic priest
who arrived on the shores of La Florida in 1565. The journal is discovered
in the attic of Dunkirk Manor, and tells of the brutality and tragedy that
befalls its author and his native flock—members of the Timucuan tribe.
There is the early 20th Century tragedy that stalks Dunkirk Manor
when the unsolved murder of a silent screen starlet seems to cast a pall
over the mansion down to the very present. And there is the very
contemporary tragedy that strikes within a day of the arrival of Faye and
her crew—the disappearance of Daniel and Suzanne Wrather’s lovely young
assistant Glynis Smithson from the grounds of the B&B. Blood stains in and
around her automobile, and the subsequent discovery of the body of her
brutally murdered fiancé indicate that Dunkirk Manor might have even more
secrets hidden within its thick walls.
The author evokes an almost dreamy atmosphere of
ancient evil and sinister decadence as Faye struggles with translating
Father Domingo’s journal, archaeological finds that may finally point to the
murderer of the Jazz Age starlet, and the very real and present danger posed
to all within the walls of Dunkirk Manor by the kidnaper of Glynis—including
Joe and Faye’s unborn baby!
Mary Anna Evan skillfully weaves these three story
lines together and at the same time keeps the reader fully aware that Faye
is facing these dangers and challenges all within days of giving birth!
Four trowels for Faye Longchamp’s sixth adventure!
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