Evans, Mary Anna 1961-
Evans, Mary Anna 1961-
Born 1961; married; children: three. Education: Degrees in physics and chemical engineering.
Home—Gainesville, FL. E-mail—mary [email protected].
Patrick D. Smith Florida Literature Award, Florida Historical Society, 2004, and finalist for Benjamin Franklin Award for mystery and suspense, both for Artifacts, 2004.
Artifacts, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2003.
Relics, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2005.
Effigies, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2007.
Contributor to anthology, A Merry Band of Murderers.
After a number of jobs and a budding career as an environmental consultant, Mary Anna Evans decided to spend more time at home with her three children and put her talents and interests to use in writing a novel. The result was Artifacts, a mystery set around an old Floridian plantation house named Joyeuse. Once owned by a freed slave named Cally, the home is now in the possession of her great-great granddaughter Faye Longchamp, an archeology student. When Faye finds herself unable to pay the higher property taxes, she decides to dig for artifacts on the property and sell them on the black market. What she finds instead is the skull of a murdered woman, which she decides not to report for fear that this will expose her own illegal activities. Alternatively, Faye decides to investigate on her own. Faye soon finds herself on the trail of a killer who is still very much alive and determined to prevent anyone from uncovering the crime. As other bodies start turning up and several of Faye's fellow students disappear from an archeology dig, Faye realizes the past is catching up with her. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the novel a "capably written debut with perhaps too much history and not enough mystery for its high body count." More enthusiastically, Booklist reviewer Barbara Bibel com- mended Evans for introducing "a strong female sleuth in this extremely promising debut … weaving past and present together in a multilayered, compelling plot."
Faye Longchamp returns in Relics, in which she is heading a team of archaeologists in Alabama to uncover the origins of the mysterious Sujosa tribe, an ethnic group with a resistance to various diseases, among them AIDS. However, her dig is interrupted by a house fire that kills the historian working with the ground, and then there is the apparent suicide of a Sujosa youth. Now Faye suspects these two deaths are the result of murder, and she thinks she may be the next victim unless she can uncover mysteries surrounding the Sujosa people. Writing in School Library Journal, Catherine Gilbride found that "Evans delivers a convincing read with life-size, unique characters." Similar praise came from Booklist contributor Bibel who observed: "Evans combines a fascinating plot and an appealing investigator."
Effigies finds Longchamp in Mississippi working on a dig to locate the starting point of the Choctaw Nation. A local farmer has a likely looking mound, but refuses to allow the researchers access, even attacking them with a bulldozer. Later, when this farmer is found dead, killed by a hand-fashioned stone blade, suspicion falls on Longchamp and her team. Now the archaeologist must work to clear herself in this tale accented by "fascinating history of ancient American civilizations," as Bibel noted in Booklist. A Publishers Weekly reviewer also had praise for the offering, calling it "intriguing," and further commenting that Evans's "sympathetic characters and fascinating archeological lore add up to a style all her own." A Kirkus Reviews critic similarly concluded: "A captivating combination of archeology, Native-American tales, romance and detection."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 1, 2003, Barbara Bibel, review of Artifacts, p. 959; August 1, 2005, Barbara Bibel, review of Relics, p. 1998; November 1, 2006, Barbara Bibel, review of Effigies, p. 32.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2003, review of Artifacts, pp. 507-508; October 15, 2006, review of Effigies, p. 1047.
MBR Bookwatch, October, 2005, Diane C. Donovan, review of Relics,.
Publishers Weekly, April 7, 2003, review of Artifacts, p. 49; November 20, 2006, review of Effigies, p. 42.
Sarasota Herald Tribune (Sarasota, FL), July 20, 2003, "Too-recent Skull Sets off Mystery on Florida Island," p. 4.
School Library Journal, February, 2006, Catherine Gilbride, review of Relics, p. 157.
Bookloons,http://www.bookloons.com/ (June 7, 2007), Mary Ann Smyth, reviews of Relics and Effigies.
Mary Anna Evans Home Page,http://www.maryannaevans.com (June 7, 2007).