Plunder: A Faye Longchamp Mystery by Mary Anna Evans
In the aftermath of a disastrous oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, professional archeologist Faye Longchamp and her husband and business partner, Joe Wolf Mantooth, race against time to document historic Mississippi Delta sites before they are forever ruined by the approaching tides of oil, all the while coping with the needs and demands of Michael, their one-year-old son. But Faye and Joe’s already daunting task becomes even more difficult and dangerous when a murdered man is found floating in the little marina from which they are operating.
The victim was Herbert, the uncle of Amande, a precocious teenager who lives with her grandmother on a dilapidated houseboat moored at the same marina. Amande’s grandmother is a mambo, a voodoo lady, who spends her days fashioning charms and dolls for the locals and who expects the free-spirited Amande to learn the family trade.
Another brutal murder occurs and suspicion soon falls on Amande’s many relatives. There’s Steve, the recent widower of Amande’s mother, who abandoned her baby sixteen years before, never to return. There’s Didi, the aunt, who can’t resist anyone wearing pants and Dale, her husband who can’t wait to be rid of his wayward wife. They, and a few other odd (in every sense of the word) relations are gathering like swamp flies and just as welcome at the old family houseboat.
The laws of inheritance in Louisiana are as twisted and difficult to navigate as its dark delta waterways. Someone has placed a high value on what the family members stand to inherit and that person is willing to kill to increase their share. Even though Faye is desperate to complete the archeological survey before the spreading oil slick arrives, her maternal instincts can’t be resisted as she comes to understand the deadly danger lying in wait for young Amande.
Reviewed by Andrew MacRae, author of “Murder Misdirected” for Suspense Magazine