Review: Mary Anna Evans continues to impress readers with the third entry in the Faye Longchamp mystery series, Effigies.
Faye, together with Joe Wolf Mantooth, are working on a project team that was hired by the state of Mississippi to excavate a region prior to putting a new road through. The local Choctaw tribe had its origins in the area, and considers much of the land sacred. When a local property owner is murdered with a Choctaw artifact, Faye gets involved with the investigation. Was it a case of property rights versus the preservation of ancient history? Or could the murder have been personally motivated? The latter case seems possible when an aging, prominent, black politician makes a speech that he was the victim of a hate crime in the area many years ago, and would like to see justice done before he dies.
Evans is masterful at weaving a historical thread through her mysteries, with Effigies being no exception. Interspersed between chapters are Choctaw stories, as told by one of the local residents. Most of these stories are related in some way to the main plot, though they don't necessarily aid the reader in solving the mystery of the property owner's death. Towards the end, Evans turned what could have been a typical "heroine-in-peril" scenario and made it something spiritual and special, not unlike the Choctaw themselves. It's a captivating moment.
If there's a weak element of Effigies, it's Faye herself. She seems to lack the passion exhibited in earlier books; it's as if this murder mystery is simply an academic exercise to her. Faye has been evolving dramatically since Artifacts (the first, and arguably, the best book of the series) and she is a more interesting character when she has something personal vested in the outcome.
Following the main text, the author adds a guide for teachers, students, and (in her words), the incurably curious, a nice touch to a well-researched and written novel.
Acknowledgment: Poisoned Pen Press provided an ARC of Effigies for this review.
Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), August 2005
ISBN-13: 9781590581193; ISBN-10: 1590581199
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), July 2008
ISBN-13: 9781590584835; ISBN-10: 159058483X
Location(s) referenced in Effigies: Mississippi
— ♦ —
Effigies by Mary Anna Evans — A Faye Longchamp Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: January 2007
List Price: $24.95