Long-dead woman leaves legacy of manipulation and discord

Burials, by Mary Anna Evans. Poisoned Pen Press. 302 pages. Hardcover $26.95. Trade paperback $15.95.

Winner of three Florida Book Awards for earlier titles in her Faye Longchamp Mystery Series, Ms. Evans no longer lives in Florida but deserves “Florida Writer” status for her fiction mostly set in the Sunshine State. The setting is now Oklahoma (with a trace of Arkansas), but the ingredients are the ones her fans are familiar with: archaeological acumen, spellbinding mystery, horrible crimes, intrepid sleuthing, and domestic tensions.  

Hired by Chief Roy Cloud, head of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s Lighthorse Tribal Police, to assist in the reopening of a dig that was closed down twenty-nine years previously, Faye finds herself involved in a murder case. The site holds the remains of another archaeologist, Dr. Sofia Townsend, who had been exploring the site before disappearing. It soon becomes clear that she was murdered, and then buried, along with several important artifacts.

Disturbing historic sites, especially burial sites, had been a controversial issue in the Muscogee Nation, and in the community of Sylacauga, Oklahoma. Those attempting to reopen the site attracted gunfire. Is that because they knew Dr. Townsend’s remains would be discovered? Is her murderer among those trying to scare people away?

Evans

More to the point: is her murderer one of those she had employed shortly before she disappeared? That group includes Sly Mantooth, father of Faye’s husband Joe, and Mickey Callahan, father of an archeologist named Carson Callahan. Carson, who had earned his graduate degrees by doing studies of Townsend’s work, is now part of the team continuing her work – and also part of the investigation of her death.

The shooting of a law enforcement officer guarding the scene of the crime adds a degree of urgency to the investigation led by Chief Cloud, and to the work assigned to Faye.

Faye’s task is further complicated by the essential reason for coming to this tiny Oklahoma town, which is to help her husband rebuild his relationship with his father. Together, they will disperse Joe’s late mother’s ashes. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the May 3, 2017 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the May 4 Naples, Bonita Springs, and Punta Gorda / Port Charlotte editions, click here:  Florida Weekly – Burials

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