Book Reviews

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!

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Haunted Ground by Erin Hart

Reviewed on: August 1, 2003

Scribner, New York
2003 (hc)

This is a first novel by a new young author and I can strongly believe that we readers will have many years of enjoyment ahead of us if Erin Hart persists in her career as a writer. Erin Hart, a graduate of St. Olaf College and the University of Minnesota, was communications director for the Minnesota Arts Board and is a founder of Minnesota’s Irish Music and Dance Association. I cite these biographical details because Ms. Hart artfully and seamlessly weaves her experiences into this wonderfully atmospheric novel of Ireland, archaeology and murder.

Nora Gavin is one of her protagonists—an American born (Minneapolis, in fact) pathologist—called in to aid Irish archaeologist Cormac Maguire when the severed head of beautiful young red-headed woman is discovered by Irish farmers cutting turf in a peat bog. Because of the recent disappearance of a young mother and her son from the same vicinity, a third protagonist, police officer Garrett Devaney, is introduced to the reader. It is soon established that the disembodied head is truly a bog body— at first believed to be anywhere from several hundred to a thousand years old. Yet the two mysteries – the missing mother and son and the ancient victim—are intertwined and united by the sadness that is so often a part of Irish history.

Erin Hart’s storytelling abilities are remarkable, her ear for Irish dialogue fairly sings at times, and her descriptions of the Irish countryside and its urban features are wonderful to read. And she tells an awfully good murder mystery! This is one book that I heartily urge readers to go out and buy now—don’t wait for the paperback. This is too good a book to postpone the pleasure of reading!

Twenty Years in the Trenches: Archaeology in Fiction

William Gresens, longtime MVAC supporter and volunteer, has been writing reviews of archaeological fiction as MVAC’s book reviewer for twenty years.  In this interview Bill shares how he got started writing reviews for MVAC, how the genre has changed, highlights, and his thoughts looking forward. 

Bill Gresen’s Book Review 20th Anniversary

While Bill's reviews go back 20 years now, his relationship with MVAC goes back more than twice that long! The reviews capture some of the things we enjoy most about Bill-- he's perceptive, methodical, a clear thinker, and a whole lot of fun! We look forward to this relationship--and Bill's reviews!--continuing for many years to come.

The March 2021 review marks the 20th anniversary of reviews of archaeological fiction.  It has been my pleasure and great fun to while away the hours reading these books—for the most part, at least—and writing the reviews!  My thanks to MVAC allowing me to prattle on and I look forward to the years ahead.

Bill Gresens