Review: Following a miscarriage, Faye Longchamp-Mantooth has been wandering her island home off the Florida panhandle randomly digging, doing what she was trained to do as an archaeologist but not really searching for anything other than meaning in her life. But then she accidentally uncovers a barrel containing a toxic substance, something that requires her to contact the authorities to investigate, in Isolation, the ninth mystery in this series by Mary Anna Evans.
While a team of environmental scientists swarm her island testing to see how far and wide the toxins, notably arsenic, are, Faye is also mourning the death of her friend Liz, owner of the only marina in the area, who was murdered one night. The police have no witnesses and no clues as to who might have wanted to see her dead. And to complicate Faye's life further, her husband Joe's estranged father, Sylvester "Sly" Mantooth, has come for a visit. With Faye still recovering from the loss of her unborn child, and Joe not sure how to help her, Sly's presence is awkward for all. Still, he has bonded with his toddler grandson Michael, and spends most of his days with him. Meanwhile, a wealthy man looking into his family tree believes that an ancestor spent some time in the area in the late 1800s, and was even held prisoner by a former slave. Faye doesn't have the heart to tell him that based on the information he has gathered, that former slave was most likely her great-great-grandmother, a woman she idolizes for all she did to survive and thrive in the years following the Civil War, and she can't believe Cally Stanton could have been so cruel.
The books in this series are typically stellar examples of mysteries that combine events of the past with events in the present, and those that affect Faye personally are among the best of the lot. Isolation is most definitively an example of this. There are multiple mysteries to solve — the murder of Liz at the marina, how arsenic and other toxins came to be on Faye's island, and did Faye's ancestor really keep a Yankee soldier prisoner on the island — and Faye, who is slowly returning a normal life, tackles each separately. Of course, they are all related to one degree or another, but the relationships are organic to the story, and their resolutions unfold in a natural manner. The characters are all incredibly well drawn, and it was wise on the part of the author to keep the character count to a minimum, leaving a few recurring characters off stage, referenced occasionally but largely not seen or heard. Though this entry in the series can certainly be read as a stand-alone, it is probably best appreciated after having read some, or better yet, all of the previous books. With many poignant moments, a good deal of suspenseful action, and an overall captivating history as backstory, this is one of the best mysteries of the year.
Acknowledgment: Maryglenn McCombs Book Publicity provided a copy of Isolation for this review.
Review Copyright © 2015 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), October 2013
ISBN-13: 9781464201677; ISBN-10: 1464201676
Location(s) referenced in Isolation: Florida
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Isolation by Mary Anna Evans — A Faye Longchamp Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: August 2015
List Price: $26.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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