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4.6 out of 5 stars
Strangers (Faye Longchamp Series)
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2010
Mary Anna Evans is a bi-brained writer. Her areas of expertise include degrees in physics and engineering, but she prefers history and tales of the past. However, she does use her skills in working with teachers to use popular fiction as a vehicle to increase math and science skills. She is currently writing a book on math literacy with a projected publishing date of 2011.

Faye Longchamp and husband Joe Wolf Mantooth launch an archaeological consulting firm, and one of their first jobs lands them in historic St. Augustine, Florida. Dunkirk Manor is now a functioning bed and breakfast, but its history includes an unsolved murder of a Hollywood glamour girl who, it is rumored, was having an affair with the mansion's owner. But in the meantime, a current female employee of the manor disappears, and a very pregnant Faye Longchamp finds herself surrounded by overly-protective people on all sides, including the manor's current owners, her husband, and Detective Overstreet:

"Faye Longchamp-Mantooth sat in the car next to him, barely big enough to carry the child in her belly. Even when she wasn't pregnant, an average-sized man with no scruples could flatten her without half-trying. There was a reason that some policemen kept their own women on a short string, constricting their social circle and limiting their freedom to move around the world until there was really nothing in their lives but their husbands. It was sick and it was wrong, but Detective Overstreet could understand it."

Naturally one disappearing pregnant woman leads to another, and this time it is Faye's best friend and her daughter. Fortunately Joe is an exceptionally intelligent and savvy man who can come to the rescue. In the meantime, lots of interesting artifacts are turned up which shed light on the manor's history, including a diary written by a Spanish priest from 1565, contrasting with trinkets from the 1920's. Both history lines are fascinating.

Mary Anna Evans writes with a mixture of scientific knowledge, including modern archaeological techniques. But, even more importantly, she can tug our heartstrings.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2011
I like this series so much. Mysteries and archaeology go together so well, I think. Faye Longchamp and her husband, Joe Mantooth, have started their own archaeological consulting business and, while awaiting the birth of their first child, are on a site in St. Augustine, Florida, to excavate the back property of an old mansion, now a luxurious bed and breakfast. The owners want to build a swimming pool; however, St. Augustine has strict laws about construction due to the amount of important artifacts found in the area, and, of course, it's historical significance in early America.As a result, Faye and Joe and their team, including Magda and her little daughter, Rachel, have been called in. The author has once again wound several mysteries into this story - the disappearance of a young assistant to the owners of the property, baby items found buried under tiles from an earlier swimming pool, a mentally challenged elderly man who "lives" on the property as a self-designated "protector", and the murder of a young movie star, a guest at the mansion during the early 1900's. Any more and I'll give away too much of the story so I'll stop by favorably comparing Ms Evans to Beverly Connor, one of my favorite mystery writers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2013
I have enjoyed reading Mary Anna Evan's Faye Longchamp series! A well-written murder-mystery book focusing on southern landscape that will keep you coming back for more.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2011
This is Evans' sixth novel about archeologist Faye Longchamp and her husband Joe Wolf Mantooth. I haven't read any of the others, and didn't find it an obstacle to following and enjoying this story. Faye has turned her archeology degree into a business rather than a tenure-track teaching position, and she, Joe, and their employees, including Magda Stockard-McKenzie, Ph.D., are in St. Augustine, FL, excavating the back yard of the Art Deco-era mansion, Dunkirk Manor, whose current owners want to add a swimming pool. Dunkirk Manor is in a historically rather uninteresting section of St. Augustine, and it'a a relatively easy assignment, perfect for the last month or so of Faye's pregnancy. An unexpected bonus is the discovery, in a storeroom, of the journal of a priest, Father Domingo, who accompanied the first Spanish expedition to the St. Augustine area.

Or so it seems, at least until Glynis Smithson, assistant to the owners, Daniel and Suzanne Wrather, disappears. Her car is parked out back, there's some blood in her car and a lot more just outside it--and if there was any trail of blood leading away from the car, it has possibly been washed away by the automatic sprinklers. There are also a few odd items in and near the car, artifacts apparently dating to the 16th-century arrival of the Spanish.

Faye becomes involved in the investigation into Glynis's disappearance, which becomes a murder investigation when her boyfriend turns up dead, because of the archeological connection. At the same time, the excavation at Dunkirk Manor becomes more interesting, as they uncover evidence of a previous swimming pool, as well as buried 1920s-era children's toys in what looks very like a small shrine. As Faye learns more about both her employers and the 1920s owners, she discovers an unsolved murder of a beautiful starlet, and an odd parallel between Suzanne and her great-aunt Allyce Dunkirk, in that they both lost very young children whom they continued to mourn many years later. The archeological items and the fact that her boyfriend was murdered leads to the suspicion that Glynis was murdered or kidnapped because she discovered a construction project going forward illegally after discovering an unreported archeological site.

Faye divides her attention amongst the Dunkirk Manor dig, Father Domingo's journal, the unsolved murder, and Glynis's disappearance, and they all tangle together in unexpected ways. And when she gets too close to some of the answers, the situation turns dangerous, and she's fighting for her life against an unexpected villain.

I found Strangers engrossing and highly readable, and I'll probably be looking for more of Evans's books about Faye.

Note: I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2013
I have enjoyed all of Mary Anna Evans' books, but this one really hooked me. It weaved what is happening in the world right now with drama from past. I love the characters and it reads easily and well. Her books send me back to the library to learn more about the historical events that are essential to the plot. It is a must read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2013
All of the Longchamp books are fun reads. Especially fun if you enjoy getting a little history in your reads.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2013
I can not wait to read the next book to see what is next in this series. I love these characters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2012
I got hooked when I read the first in the Faye Longchamp series, Artifacts. The mix of historical facts and intriguing mystery makes for a very enjoyable read.
The stately old Florida mansion is a perfect setting for the story in Strangers and Faye and Joe are once again tossed into the midst of mystery and murder. The 1565 diary of a priest that Faye finds in the dusty attic gives us a priceless look into the history of the founding of St. Augustine. Anyone who hasn't read this entire series should!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2012
***WARNING - POSSIBLE SPOILERS***

After being slightly disappointed with the last in the Faye Longchamp mystery series, 'Floodgates', this book was back to the enjoyable kind of tale that makes this series such a delight.
The characters are lively and interesting and we get to catch up with Faye's mentor and friend, Magda.

I would have given it five stars if not for a couple of sticking points:
1) The character of Glynis' father was not fleshed out to its full potential. Early on we get a sense of forboding as to the ruthlessness of this man, but in the end it just peters out. I feel he could have been used to a much greater extent and quite possibly would have strengthened the story. The end of the book felt a bit rushed and cut off, which is not at all like the other Faye mysteries.

2) Sadly, I found myself becoming aggravated with Faye. She is such a strong, wonderful heroine and I have admired her pluck and intelligence throughout the series. However, her insistence on not taking care of herself, and therefore her unborn child, really got under my skin. Her irritation with Joe, Magda and others who expressed concern over her activities while hugely pregnant only ended up making me irritable with her. We have heard many times throughout the series how badly she wanted a child and now that she is so close to having that wish fulfilled, she seems to have taken leave of most of her common sense and refuses to exercise due caution. I don't know if this relates to her underlying worry about her and Joe's age difference and her realization that she is reaching middle age or what. Whatever the cause it detracted from the enjoyment of the story.
I understand that Faye is a physical character and the other books have centered around her being slim, fit, and ready for any adventure. If Ms. Evans needed to work the pregnancy into the book for the sake of the character's timeline, it would have made more sense for Faye to react more intellectually to the mystery at hand and had the other characters shoulder the burden of the physicality of it or perhaps have set this story in the very earliest stages of her pregnancy.

All in all, a good book with a wonderful progression of Faye and Joe's story, but with just a couple of drawbacks.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2012
I am familiar with St. Augustine and the setting was realistic enough that I kept wondering just where the house was located. It seems like you would take a left after crossing the Bridge of Lions, then drive down those little streets until they turn into sand covered limestone and peter out in front of little houses not much nicer than the ruin in which the old man lived. Then the mansion would be behind a garden wall, just out of sight. I also kept wondering what hours the mansion was open for tours. Pretty realistic.
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