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.
In Evans's intriguing third mystery to feature archeologist Faye Longchamp (after 2005's Relics), Faye and her Native American assistant, Joe Wolf Mantooth, leave Joyeuse Island, Fla., for a dig in rural Mississippi at the site of a proposed highway. They arrive during the Neshoba County Fair, a weeklong celebration during which residents put aside their differences to honor the area's mixed-race heritage. But when the archeologists discover another important site on the property of Carroll Calhoun, a racist with ties to the KKK, he not only refuses to let them excavate but tries to bulldoze what might be a sacred Choctaw burial mound. In the ensuing clash, racial tensions hit the boiling point over who has rights to the mound. Calhoun is then found dead, his throat slit with an ancient Indian blade, and Faye investigates after suspicion falls on Joe and other area Native Americans. Though Evans has been compared to Tony Hillerman, her sympathetic characters and fascinating archeological lore add up to a style all her own.