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Book Review: ‘Isolation: A Faye Longchamp Mystery’, by Mary Anna Evans

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About the author

Mary Anna Evans 'Isolation A Faye Longchamp Mystery' on Sahar's BlogMary Anna Evans has degrees in physics and engineering, but her heart is in the past. Her series character, Faye Longchamp, lives the exciting life of an archaeologist, and Mary Anna envies her a little. Mary Anna’s Faye Longchamp archaeological mysteries have earned recognition that includes the Mississippi Library Association’s Mississippi Author Award, a spot on Voice of Young America’s (VOYA) list of “Adult Mysteries with Young Adult Appeal,” a writer’s residency from The Studios of Key West, the Benjamin Franklin Award, the Florida Historical Society’s Patrick D. Smith Florida Literature Award, and three Florida Book Awards bronze medals. Faye Longchamp’s growing list of adventures include Artifacts, Relics, Effigies, Findings, Floodgates, Strangers, Plunder, Rituals, Isolation, and, coming in early 2017, Burials. Published by Poisoned Pen Press, they are available from all major outlets in hardcover, trade paper, ebook, large-print, and audio editions.

Her other fiction includes Wounded Earth, a suspense novel featuring environmental scientist Larabeth McLeod, and Jewel Box, a collection of short fiction and essays. Your Novel, Day by Day: A Fiction Writers Companion is a guide intended to take the aspiring novelist from blank page to finished book and it is, like Wounded Earth and Jewel Box, published by Joyeuse Press. All these works are available in paperback and ebook editions.

About the Book

Mary Anna Evans 'Isolation A Faye Longchamp Mystery' cover on Sahar's BlogAs Archaeologist Faye Longchamp-Mantooth struggles to recover from a shattering personal loss, she sees that everyone she loves is trying to reach out to her. If only she could reach back. Instead she’s out digging holes all over her home, the Florida island of Joyeuse. In their old plantation home, Joe Wolf Mantooth is surrounded by family―Faye, the wife he loves; their toddler son he adores; and his father, who hasn’t gotten around to telling him how long he’s been out of prison or how he got there―yet Joe has never felt so helpless or alone. Then a close friend at the local marina is brutally murdered, the first in a string of crimes against women that rocks Micco County. Joe, desperate to help Faye, realizes she is in danger from both her inner demons and someone who has breached the island’s isolation. Local law and environmental officials say they want to help, but to Faye and Joe they feel more like invaders. A struggling Faye reaches back over a century into her family’s history for clues. And all the while, danger snakes further into their lives, threatening the people they love, their cherished home, even the very ground―some of it poisoned―beneath their feet.

Book Review

When I thought of a series of mystery books set around a strong female figure, I of course first thought of Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta-centric series. And while there are definitely certain similarities between the two series, there are a lot of differences, enough to encourage Scarpetta fans to consider adding Longchamp to their list of favorite characters.

One of the most striking differences between the two series is that Evans does not spoon-feed you information; she trusts that you are able to solve the mystery if you pay enough attention to the details scattered throughout the book. It’s also very realistic in the way that Evans doesn’t just focus on the mystery at hand, but also gives us details about day-to-day life and concerns—not enough to bog the reading down, but enough to make us understand why, perhaps, it takes her characters a little longer than it might take us to figure out what is going on. Because that’s what day-to-day responsibilities do to you; they narrow your vision down to what needs to be done to the point that the obvious can completely go over our heads.

Evans is not just a good plot-developer or story-teller; she is also an excellent writer. Isolation is a unique combination of fast-paced but with approachable and with depth, in that what happens isn’t your typical James Patterson fare—it’s a series of events that could happen to just about anything—and yet it remains quite fast paced and delved into the reasons why these events are happening. It is also easy to read but thick, in that while there is a lot of character development, one can slice through it as easily as with a less well-thought out book. This in itself says a lot about Evans’ skills as a writer.

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