Disclaimer- I received this book as an ebook ARC from Poisoned Pen Press. I am not receiving any monetary compensation for my review of this book.
Strangers by Mary Anna Evans Title Publication Date 10/01/2010
p.322 includes commentary from author in back of book
Strangers is the sixth title in a series of books about Faye Mantooth and her now husband Joe Wolf Mantooth. Just jumping into the series now, I can gather that their romance blossomed over the course of the series and in this novel Faye, at forty, is expecting their first child in about five weeks. I requested this ARC because it takes place in St. Augustine, Florida a place I know well as I grew up close to it and was a frequent visitor. Ms. Evans did her research because I found the descriptions of the ghost tours at night, the tourists and the attractions all to be accurate. She knew the history of St. Augustine better than me and wove a good mystery involving ghosts, loss, love and murder. The characters were believable and the points of view changed sometimes but were mainly from Faye's point of view so I understood her motivations the most. As she was the main focus, I saw her as likable, she cared about people, fair minded, but maybe a little too single minded or unable to let go. She's the type that can't seem to let go or delegate, even when her physical condition requires her to do so. She's trying to get her fledgling company started and Suzanne and Daniel, the owners of the B&B are kind enough to insist that hers be the archaeological firm that digs up the back yard to make sure it's okay to build a swimming pool.
Faye's husband, Joe, is her partner and works with her as well as her PhD. professor and formidable friend, Magda who has her three year old daughter Rachel with her. They also have two young men rounding out their team. They discover that there had already been a pool in the back yard, but they make other interesting discoveries as well, finding things that shouldn't be there considering the age of the home. Then one of the B&B employees goes missing. And a note is found with priceless artifacts asking Faye what the ethical thing to do is when they were found at a construction site. Soon, Faye finds herself working for the Police Department as well as the B&B. And then, in the attic of the B&B, she finds a priceless treasure that any archaeologist would give their first born to get their hands on. Which she is about to do.
I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery. It was fresher than most of the series novels I've read. There was more than one mystery to solve and I had no clue who had committed the crimes until the end. The writing is lean even though it has to do with archaeology, there isn't so much detail that I got bored. Just enough to keep me interested. The same with the police work and Joe's specialty in stone made weapons. I'm interested enough to go back and buy the other five in the series to see how it all started. There are a series of questions the author answers at the end that suggests Faye wasn't even an archaeologist when the series started and Joe was camping on her land. I'm really intrigued to find out how they got to this point. I'd suggest this novel to anyone that enjoys a mystery with a female lead, archaeology or history.