Saturday, September 25, 2010
Floodgates by Mary Anna Evans
Centuries of tragedy shadow New Orleans—wars, slavery, and a monumental flood that killed a thousand people and still threatens to wash all that history away.Faye Longchamp and her team of archaeologists, fighting to save New Orleans’ past, are horrified when they discover a corpse that’s far too new to be an archaeological find. The police presume it’s just another dead body in the long, sad sequence of dead bodies left by Hurricane Katrina, until Faye shows them a truth that only an archaeologist could see: the debris piled on top of the dead woman is all wrong. Someone brought Shelly Broussard to this flooded-out house and left her dead body behind. Presumably, that someone was her killer.Faye and her assistant Joe Wolf Mantooth are drawn into the investigation by a detective who believes their professional expertise is critical to the case. They quickly learn that trouble swirled around the victim like winds around the still, quiet eye of a hurricane. Is Shelly’s heroic rescue work in the aftermath of Katrina the key to her death? Or does the sheaf of photos in her work files hold the answer? Will Faye and Joe be the next innocents engulfed in this deadly deception?(Image and summary from Good Reads)
Faye Longchamp is working on a historical site that may or may not be the site of a former plantation next to a National Park, a battlefield in New Orleans that sits next to the Mississippi River. The story takes place post Katrina and the effects of Katrina on the residents can still be seen in their eyes, in their loss, and in their stories they have to share. One of the park rangers, a young man, agrees to take Faye to the ninth ward where so much damage was done and people are still living in their FEMA trailers two years later. Faye can't believe the complete devastation and that it is taking so long for insurance companies to declare these places condemned so they can start fresh. They encounter a church youth group trying to clear a house out of debris until they discover a body. When the police come, Faye has already used her scientific reasoning to decide it was murder and not drowning. The body was weighted down with dumbbells so it wouldn't float.
The police detective hires her as a consultant and they work together along with Joe who shows up a few days later after he gets a school break to help out.
During this time Joe and Faye along with one of Faye's co -workers,Nina almost drown in the Mississippi. Nina has to be hospitalized so she takes the time to do some "consulting" this time with Joe. But he is so fascinated with the way water flows away from the water and he and a writer are seemingly always discussing the early days of New Orleans and the sewage systems. In the meantime, the body has been identified as a fellow archaeologist that Nina knew well. She finds another archaeological team working another site and gets some insight into Shelly, the dead body. She had a good eye for spotting things no one else would see in aerial view photos and could pick out tiny details. And she worked for the company that Nina's boyfriend works for and after Katrina, they were all in the same place doing what they could to send rescuers to places where the aerial photos showed survivors. Shelly's parents didn't survive, rescuers didn't get to them in time. But, then Shelly survived Katrina, but died a few days later. Faye is sure the two are connected.
It's hard to have an archaeological dig in New Orleans. First off, it's below sea level, so pumps are used to keep water out of the dig sites. Then, pounded by several hurricanes and floods, sediment washes over the layers of dirt making it difficult to determine if the piece of pottery found is from some one's collection broken during Katrina and settled into the earth and washed over with sediment or if it belonged to the plantation site below it. I'm simplifying things as I am not an archaeologist, but you can imagine the trouble I'm trying to describe.
And then there is the personal relationship between Joe and Faye. They are engaged, but Joe is nine years younger than Faye and she feels the difference is a problem. None of the men in her family have ever stuck around, whether they left or were killed. She's throwing road blocks up to getting married and tells Joe Christmas, this novel is taking place in April. We get a rare insight into Joe's point of view and he says basically, "Hell no. I don't care how I have to convince her, but we aren't waiting that long." Faye has to come to terms to the fact that Joe loves her. His head doesn't turn at the women that look at him, it goes deeper than her skin. They almost think like a team and she learns that in this novel. It turns out nicely.
Again, no sex, not even a kiss, just part of the story.
The story has a great ending best last line ever! A must read if you enjoy this series!
Another great mystery for anyone interested in the history of New Orleans, Katrina, early drainage systems in New Orleans, a good mystery and archaeology.
Remember, I started the series with the last book called Strangers. I posted that review July 6th of 2010 if anyone wants to read it. In that one, Faye is pregnant with their first child. I have no idea if that is their only child or not.