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Saturday, February 12th 2005

11:40 AM

ARTIFACT by Mary Anna Evans is full of history and suspense!

 

 

 

Mary Anna Evans' first book Artifact is a multi-layerd mystery full of history and suspense. Faye Longcham begins illegally digging for artifacts and digs up more than bones, pots and old hair combs. After careful examination of artifacts found with a skeleton Faye determines she has stumbled on a 20th century murder. Her questions and research lead her to threaten everyone from local developers and politicians to restaurant owners. Everyone has their own motives for keeping their past a secret and Faye has her reasons for never fully explaining the cause of her questioning. In revealing her find she would threaten her moonlighting in illegal artifacts and the location of her ancestral home on an nearby secluded island. Her questions and her secrecy bring her closer to not only solving one murder but several and threaten her life in several ways.

Evans carried this plot off without me discovering the killers identify and she had me significantly drawn into caring about the multiple plot lines. The story is seasoned with the environmental and racial concerns of South Florida and the characters are vivid. Evans brings history to life through the discussions of archeology, genealogy, the maintenance of her home, hurricane behavior and newspaper research. Several key pieces of the mystery come together using good modern genealogical techniques. Early in the book Faye's home maintenance leads her to discover a family journal that plays prominent in the book.

Generally, I don't like when authors use journals. Too often I have read authors who have conveniently used a journal to solve the genealogical or murder mystery. The use of journals are disappointing because in real life their completeness and availability is never quite as convient as in the story. Historical and genealogical research requires hours of digging through documents that often yield nothing to find the one document that reveals only part of the story. Evans, however, uses the journal not to solve mysteries but to fill out the story. The journal reads like a mini novel and is engrossing on it's own. It's characters are real and reveal parts of history through personal voice.

Evans's intricate story and attention to historical and regional detail made Artifact an enjoyable read. Evans will be on my list of authors to watch.

Artifact by Mary Anna Evans      ISBN 0743479505      Poisoned Pen Press

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