Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Effigies by Mary Anna Evans

Archaeologist Faye Longchamp and her friend, Joe Wolf Mantooth, have traveled to Neshoba County, Mississippi, to help excavate a site near Nanih Waiya, the sacred mound where tradition says the Choctaw nation was born. When farmer Carroll Calhoun refuses their request to investigate an ancient Native American mound, Faye and her colleagues are disappointed, but his next action breaks their hearts: he tries to bulldoze the huge relic to the ground.

Faye and Joe rush to protect history--with their bodies, if necessary. Soon the Choctaws arrive to defend the mound and the farmer's white and black neighbors come to defend his property rights. Though a popular young sheriff is able to defuse the situation, tempers are short.

That night, Calhoun is found dead, his throat sliced with a handmade stone blade. Was he killed by an archaeologist, angered by his wanton destruction of history? Neshoba County farmers have been plowing up stone tools like the murder weapon for centuries. Did one of them take this chance to even the score with an old rival?

The sheriff is well-aware that Faye and Joe were near the spot where Calhoun's body was found and their combined knowledge of stone tools is impressive. They had motive, means, and opportunity....but so does almost everyone in Neshoba County. (Summary from Good Reads)

Tempers are hot in Mississippi as an archaeological team planning to dig on one of the archaeologists own land spots a Native American Mound and can't resist the urge to poke around in it.  When the owner of the land, Mr. Calhoun, spots them not only does he threaten to bulldoze the mound, but the people protecting it themselves.  Faye of course, is determined to get a look at the mound legally,  or illegally, and one night as she and Joe are investigating it, someone, presumably Calhoun races at them with a bulldozer with enough power to plow down trees.  Joe with his uncanny ability to traverse through nature leads Faye to safety only to find a pot farm in the middle of a clearing in the woods and someone chasing them, again presumably, Calhoun.  But then they find Calhoun dead at the site of the pot farm and everyone is confused including the small town sheriff.

Throw in a senator come back to seek justice for the near death beating he took when he was eighteen in the same county who keeps passing out, then seems to be fine in the hospital and relapses every two days out of the hospital.  Add an unwilling widow to let the excavation of the mound occur and an Atlanta lobbyist after Faye's heart and there is a tangled mess to sort out.  Again, without realizing it, Faye is caught in the middle, figuring things out slowly, pointing the finger first one way then another until a harrowing conclusion finds her, Joe and another archaeologist in a fight against nature for their lives.  The downfall of the murderer is anticlimactic after what Faye has been through the previous night.  And when Ross, the lawyer/ lobbyist dating Faye sees her with Joe he realizes he has some competition whether she knows it or not.

In this book, Faye appreciates Joe more.  She still treats him a little like a child, but only because of his trusting nature.  She trusts his instincts with nature completely.  She notices him more.  He changes from his homemade buckskin pants to jeans and a plaid shirt and she notices, but she likes him better in his old stuff.  Yet she still thinks, "Wow" when she sees him.  Joe is also smart enough to know the things she likes about him and he plays on those things.  Their relationship is definitely growing closer, but she is dating Ross who shows up in the next book. 

Effigies was very intense in the final confrontation with the killer.  I knew Faye would live, but I wasn't sure about the archaeologist with them.  It was dramatic and I could feel their fears and panic.  I had to stop reading at times, but I can't tell you why because it would give details away which would spoil it.  This would be a great book for anyone who loves archaeology, history, books about Mississippi, mysteries and Native American folk lore as one of the characters tells some of the stories of the Choctaw Native Americans.  This is an unforgettable novel.


  1. Sounds just like my type of book, thanks for the recommendation.

  2. Oh wow I have to read this! Thanks for the review!


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