Author: Mary Anna Evans
Release Date: March 21, 2004
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Faye Longchamp, a former archaeology student, is working on a dig with a professor from her college days in the islands of the Florida panhandle. But Faye has a secret – she is a pothunter, someone who digs up archaeological artifacts and sells them on the black market. Faye is desperate to save Joyeuse, her crumbling family home, and the only way she can do that is through the money she makes from selling these artifacts, though she only digs on her family’s ancestral lands. When she finds a body during one of her digs, Faye realizes that there is more at stake than just her family home and is pulled into a years-old murder mystery.
I received Strangers, the sixth book in the Faye Longchamp series for review recently, and was intrigued enough by the premise – a mystery-solving archaeologist – that I wanted to start the series from the beginning. I found Artifacts to be an interesting, if clunky, read that definitely has me wanting more.
Faye is a great character in Artifacts. Though it’s clear that her pothunting is wrong (something she knows and feels very deeply), she only wants to save her family’s home. She had to drop out of school, so she has trouble making an honest living. Despite Faye’s outside-the-law antics, she does win the sympathy of the reader. The fact that she is so principled about her activities and where she won’t dig (her archaeological training makes her abhor the thought of disturbing a major site) makes her appealing.
There is a lot going on in Artifacts, and it makes the novel a little clunky. There’s Faye’s pothunting, her quest to save Joyeuse, the mystery of the body, the mysterious man who lives on the island with Faye, the history of Joyeuse and Faye’s ancestors, and that’s just the beginning. I felt like there was just too much going on, and as a result everything was jumbled. I assume these issues will work themselves out in future novels, so it doesn’t turn me off from future books, but I didn’t enjoy Artifacts as much as I’d hoped because of them.
The mystery in Artifacts is interesting, but doesn’t take center stage as much as I’d hoped. However, I enjoyed the book overall and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Faye is a lively and well-developed character, and while I hope her pothunting days are numbered, I’m looking forward to seeing what she does next.