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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Dressed to Die by Beverly Connor

Reviewed on: September 1, 2021


Cumberland House Publishing:  Nashville, TN
1998 (HC)

In the mid to late 1990s, Beverly Connor authored five archaeology mysteries that featured the exploits of a young, attractive and often frazzled physical anthropologist/archaeologist named Lindsay Chamberlain.  Lindsay is a dedicated and extremely popular mentor to her undergrad and graduate students, but is, alas, an un-tenured member of the Archaeology Department at the University of Georgia when the reader meets her in the third installment of this brief but satisfying series.

As in the previous two entries, Lindsay is confronted with multiple mysteries.  In Dressed to Die, she is hired by a private investigator, who, based upon an anonymous tip, hopes she can unearth the buried body of Shirley Foster, a University of Georgia professor of textile design, missing for four years, on the deserted farmstead of her husband’s family.  The husband, Tom Foster, is very unhappy with the excavation—after all, he has been living off his wife’s considerable fortune since she went missing.  If she’s dead, the estate goes to their children—only!

Utilizing her skills as an archaeologist—and the realistic portrayals of archaeological excavation and laboratory work are one of the real strengths of this series—Lindsay and her student assistant find and exhume the remains, which have been carefully—almost reverently—buried, although partially burned.

Concurrent with the unearthing of Shirley Foster, Lindsay’s smoke-jumper brother Sinjin (real name, St. John) arrives in Athens with a carload of crates full of prehistoric artifacts, excavated by their archaeologist grandfather and his crew in the 1930s.  The crates were recently discovered in a kudzu-covered shed on the family’s land.  The crates indicate the contents were from Georgia proveniences, but as Lindsay and her lab students begin the curation process, it quickly becomes evident that they are a mixed lot of late prehistoric/Mississippian-Adena-Fort Ancient artifacts—all in pristine condition.  Could her beloved grandfather—the man who inspired her to become an archaeologist—have been a pothunter, a looter of Native American graves?  The situation approaches one of near anarchy when the last crate is opened – no prehistoric artifacts this time, but rather the skeletal remains of a man wearing a shirt and tie!

These two disparate events bring unwanted attention to Lindsay as it becomes evident that she has enemies within the University who would love to see her gone.  The crates of artifacts disappear from the laboratory and investigations disclose that valuable holdings from both the Classics Department and the University Library have gone missing.  And the finger of suspicion clearly points to Lindsay.  Matters become even direr as one of Lindsay’s part-time lab students is arrested for the murder of Shirley Foster, with the evidence clearly proving he was at the scene when her death occurred.

The mysteries are ultimately resolved but not before Lindsay is fired from her position at UGA, more bodies begin to pile up, the list of suspects grows exponentially in Lindsay’s mind, but unfortunately perhaps not in the minds of the police—Lindsay still seems to be the preferred suspect.  When the killer of Shirley Foster is finally brought to light, the real villain and motive is most surprising, and Lindsay nearly pays the ultimate price to discover the truth.  But there is still the body in the artifact crate!  Did Grandpa do it???

Three trowels for Lindsay Chamberlain third mystery:  Dressed to Die.