Thursday, May 20, 2010

Effigies by Mary Anna Evans

Title: Effigies
Author: Mary Anna Evans
ISBN: 9781590584545, Poisoned Pen Press, 2007
Genre: Amateur Sleuth, #3 Faye Longchamp mystery
Rating: B+
Source: purchased at The Poisoned Pen

First Line: Faye Longchamp had work to do, but it would wait.

From her ramshackle ancestral home on an island off the coast of Florida, Faye Longchamp and her assistant Joe Wolf Mantooth have traveled to Mississippi to help excavate a site near the sacred mound where tradition says the Choctaw Nation was born. Carroll Calhoun refuses to allow the archaeologists on his farm to investigate an even larger mound, and they are disappointed, but Calhoun breaks their hearts when he tries to bulldoze the ancient site into oblivion. When the farmer later turns up dead, Faye finds herself trying to find the killer before Joe Wolf Mantooth is thrown in jail.

I love mysteries laced with a strong dose of archaeology, and in my opinion, Evans' series featuring Faye Longchamp is the best of the bunch. She's got a fine cast of characters; she uses her settings to advantage; and she always seems able to include more history and archaeology into her stories than many other writers. Effigies is no exception. Ever since I visited Cahokia as a child, I've been fascinated with the Mound Builders. Evans added to my knowledge in an entertaining way. She also threw me right in the middle of the heat and humidity of Mississippi amongst rednecks, scholars, law enforcement, the Choctaw and handed me a mystery to sort out. The only weakness in the whole thing was the identity of the bad guy. I figured it out early on, but I didn't much care because I still had to deduce the Why. Well, that and the fact that I was enjoying playing around in the dirt with Faye again.

If you're in the mood for mysteries with interesting, multi-faceted characters, an excellent sense of place, and a good dose of history and archaeology, you can't go wrong with Mary Anna Evans' series. Go ahead. Pick up a trowel and work in a trench with Faye. You'll be glad you did.


  1. I'll have to find this one to read. I remember Cahokia well and I'd like to know more about the Mound Builders.

  2. Cathy, I've emailed you about my Scene of the Blog - I hope you've received it. An earlier email I sent to you was returned to me undelivered!

  3. Amateur sleuth + archaeology - I am off to put this one on the list! See you.

  4. Barbara-- The view from Cahokia alone is worth the drive, isn't it?

    Margaret-- I'll email you!

    Dorte-- Oh oh. I'm having a negative impact on your budget. ;)

  5. archaeology is one of those things I really like too - so this one is going on my list too. I've just finished an archaeology mystery (Elly Griffiths' The Crossing Places which was very good) so I'll wait a while but it does sound good.

  6. Thanks for the kind words, Cathy. I haven't been to Cahokia yet, but I visited several mound sites while writing EFFIGIES--Nanih Waiya, Poverty Point, Watson Brake, and Winterville, among others. It's hard to imagine the labor it took to build such things.

    I appreciate your telling people about my work.

    Mary Anna

  7. Bernadette-- The entire series is good. I'd suggest beginning with the first, Artifacts, because you learn so much about who Faye is.

    Mary Anna-- I'm more familiar with the mound sites around the St. Louis area, so Effigies introduced me to a whole new (fascinating) batch. I really appreciate the research you put into each book. Thanks so much for stopping by!


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