Friday, September 10, 2010

Relics by Mary Anna Evans

Faye Longchamp, back in school to pursue her dream of becoming an archaeologist, has been asked to run a project for which she is barely qualified, under the direction of a man who doesn't seem to like her much. Her assignment: to uncover the origins of a mysterious ethnic group. The Sujosa have lived in Alabama's most remote hills for centuries and have shown impressive immunity to many diseases...including AIDS. Late one night, Faye awakes to find the house in flames. She saves herself and one of her housemates. But her friend Carmen, the project historian, never had a chance. Then within days, an 18-year-old boy jumps from a cell phone tower that, when completed, would connect the outside world to the Sujosa community.... Mary Anna Evans has degrees in physics and chemical engineering, but writing about archaeologist Faye Longchamp lets her indulge her passion for history, archaeology, science, and architecture. Relics is second in this award-winning series, after Artifacts, and followed by Effigies and Findings. (Summary From Good Reads)

Faye Longchamp and her friend Joe are in Alabama on an assignment with Faye as the leader of the archaeological team to learn more about the elusive Sujosa Native Americans.  From the start things aren't going well as an effigy falls on her car out of a tree on her drive to the Sujosa community.  It's just a joke, but Faye isn't laughing.  Then she discovers they renowned archaeology professor who has been there for the last month has had three lazy men digging in a forty year old trash heap, not an archaeological mound like she had expected.  She has to be careful not to step on toes because he's the leader of this government funded project so she can't ask him if he's and idiot for digging at that site.  She has to go along with it for a week and then find a new site which she'd already picked out after careful study of maps and discussions with her archaeology friend, Magda, who's on maternity leave or would be  there with her.

She also finds that the Sujosa don't want them there.  She goes out with an oral historian and finds that no one wants to talk to them.  Doors slammed in faces, abusive men, vicious dogs after them, and then a house fired kills one of them.  The house fire is suspicious to Faye because it was caused by a heater that she knows wasn't in the room and more strange, the worker's aluminum is missing completely and Faye knows it was there at bedtime.

Faye is threatened when she fires her workers for being lazy basically, but one comes back hat in hand an is apologetic and gets his job back and begins to help Joe.  We aren't privy to how Joe knows how to do the work the right way only guessing that Faye taught him when he helped her potherd in the previous book.  And while Faye finds an interesting doctor to take her to a high school football game and show some interest in her, Joe finds out why he is unable to read from a tutor sent to help the students on the same project and he falls in love.  And Faye finds herself realizing she's underestimated Joe's intelligence, I'd have to call it street smart or perceptions and observations.  She's constantly looking down on his intelligence, thinking he's barely at borderline normal.  He always seems smart to me.  He's definitely always there at the right time for her.  But I feel like Faye looks down her nose at him a little.  And it can't be racial discrimination because Faye herself is a mixture of Native American, African American and Caucasian, probably the same mix as Joe just in different amounts.  I think its her way of keeping him at a distance because she always thinks of him as handsome and she'll look up at him and think "mmm-hmm" or yummy just not in those words.

Another tragedy strikes the Sujosa community and this time it's one of their own, a promising young boy who was destined to go to school on academic scholarship and marry his sweetheart rescuing her from a  lifetime of taking care of her dying mother.  The hatred of the  "outsiders" ratchets up several notches after his death.
Faye finds roadblocks to her digging projects until she discovers a property dispute may save the day.
But it may also cost her her life and that of her friend.

Of course we know she doesn't die because the series would end, but it's very close this time and what has to be done to bring a very unlikely killer down is against the rescuer's principles.  And when things couldn't get worse for him, they do.

Surrounding all of this is the mystery of where the Sujosa originated.  They have a remarkable ability to not contract AIDS even when exposed to it and the whole attention turned to them because of that fact.  But only a few of the purest blooded Sujosa have this immunity those with an almost turquoise colored eye color. and and unusual lack of pigmentation in one section  of their otherwise dark hair.  And through her research, Faye discovers something else going on in the Sujosa community that could be cause for murder. And several members of the community are in on it?  Are they the ones that killed Carmen and helped the boy fall to his death or is it about something else?  As always I'm following along with Faye's train of thought because she's so logical and I think.  Yep, it's gotta be that person.  You nailed it.  Then I realize there are way to many pages left for us to be right.  So always expect a twist that you never say coming.  NEVER! 

I had a good time reading this one though I got bogged down a little in the archaeology parts.  And I wanted to be an archaeologist.  I think it's because I've read three of these in a row for the last three nights.  I'd recommend this to any history buff, archaeology lover, mystery lover, folklore lover or just a good fiction lover.



  1. This one sounds really good, and I've never heard of it before. Thanks for bringing it to our attention :)

  2. My favorite so far in this series is Findings. It's the fourth. Let's just say Faye finally treats Joe the way he should be treated. And I said there were six books in the series but there are actually seven. Strangers was the last one which I read first. It was really good!


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