cover image Relics


Mary Anna Evans. Poisoned Pen Press, $24.95 (296pp) ISBN 978-1-59058-119-3

Evans' second archeological mystery is every bit as good as her debut, Artifacts (2003). Soon after archeologist Faye Longchamp joins a team in rural Alabama researching the ""Sujosa,"" an isolated dark-skinned people with Caucasian features and an unusual resistance to AIDS, she discovers that the man in charge of the project has made a hash of the preliminary dig. Faye determines to prove her own worth by planning the excavation of a more likely site, but she gets sidetracked when an act of arson kills Dr. Carmen Martinez, an oral historian who was gathering old tales and songs to learn about the group's mysterious origins. The apparent suicide of an 18-year-old Sujosa boy deepens the puzzle. Faye makes a compelling heroine, and she's supported by an interesting array of suspects, though her making use of some conclusions she's jumped to about the Sujosa to unmask the murderer may strike some readers as a stretch. Transcripts of Dr. Martinez's interviews scattered throughout the narrative provide important clues for the discerning reader.