First in a series of archaeological mysteries featuring Faye Longchamp, who uncovers more than artifacts from the past.
"A haunting, atmospheric story." —P.J. Parrish, New York Times bestselling author
Faye Longchamp has lost nearly everything except her determination to hang onto Joyeuse, a moldering plantation hidden along the Florida coast. No one knows how Faye's great-great-grandmother Cally, a newly freed slave barely out of her teens, came to own Joyeuse in the aftermath of the Civil War or how her descendants hung onto it through Reconstruction, world wars, the Depression, and Jim Crow. But Faye has inherited the family tenacity. When the property taxes rise beyond her means, she sets out to save Joyeuse by digging for artifacts on her property and selling them on the black market.
But instead of pot shards and arrowheads, she uncovers a woman's shattered skull. If Faye reports the 40-year-old murder, she'll reveal her illegal livelihood, risk jail...and Joyeuse. So she probes into the dead woman's history, unaware that the past is rushing toward her like a hurricane across deceptively calm Gulf waters....
Winner of the 2004 Benjamin Franklin award in Mystery/Suspense
Few corners of Florida remain unmined for crime fiction and now, happily, there's one less. The shifting little isles along the Florida Panhandle hurricane-wracked bits of land filled with plenty of human history serve as the effective backdrop for Evans's debut, a tale of greed, archeology, romance and murder. The latest in a long line of courageous and resourceful women, Faye Longchamp can trace her mixed ancestry back to a slave and a once magnificent plantation house, Joyeuse, which she now claims by heritage and squatter's rights and whose very existence is a closely guarded secret. Faye ekes out a living by illegal "pothunting" and acting as an assistant on a legitimate archeological dig, but her discovery of a human skull and the subsequent murder of two archeology students threaten her precarious existence. While Evans stretches credulity with the sheer number of unlikely elements that make up the plot, including a mysterious Indian and a 19th-century diary, the rich setting and the lively characters that aid or bedevil Faye in her quest more than compensate. Readers should welcome this strong new heroine.