Faye Longchamp feels bad that she’s using her position as field supervisor at her mentor Dr. Magda Stockard’s archaeological dig on Seagreen Island as a cover for excavating artifacts to Douglass Everett’s Museum of American Slavery—but not bad enough to stop. Though her legal title to the land and the magnificent dump of a house has been lost to the tides of history, Faye inherited Joyeuse Island, including lands since claimed by the National Parks Service, from her great-great-grandmother Cally Stanton. The woman who survived the degradation, misery, and hardships of slavery to become owner of Joyeuse would never want the plantation to be lost for back taxes, Faye reasons; surely she’d approve of her mixed-race great-great-granddaughter digging on what’s morally speaking her own property in order to keep the land that was deeded to the family. Unfortunately, everyone around Faye is an even bigger criminal than she is. Nguyen Hanh is poaching artifacts for more mercenary reasons; Stuart Sheffield has been hired to kill two locals; and now someone has shot two young data loggers on the dig and buried them in an unmarked grave. The earth will yield still more evidence of murder—first the body of Abigail Williford, a southern belle missing nearly 40 years, then an unidentified man, woman, and child. With so many malefactors infesting the north Florida coast, how can Faye pick out such a prolific killer?
A capably written debut with perhaps too much history and not enough mystery for its high body count.