Olmec Obituary, by L.J.M. Owen
Echo Publishing (2015), Paperback, 247 pages
Elegant and refreshingly different addition to the mystery genre, in that the mystery is archaeological rather than criminal, although it does involve a crime committed 3000 year ago. Dr Elizabeth Pimms is an Egyptologist forced by financial considerations to follow the family profession of librarianship rather than her heart’s desire of digging up ancient cultures. However, her new job at a library in Canberra leads her into an unexpected involvement in a tomb of Olmec skeletons unearthed in Mexico, as well as a possible case of academic fraud. This is in addition to dealing with stresses in her own family. To tell the truth, I could have done with less of Dr Pimm’s family problems, they felt forced and didn’t quite ring true, however, the main plot of the book, concerning the archaeological mystery, is exceptionally well-handled, riveting and intellectually interesting. This also goes for the library portions of the book. This is no surprise, as the author, like her protagonist, is also a librarian with a PhD in archaeology, so she is familiar with both these disciplines and it shows. As I am also a librarian with a PhD in ancient history, it also speaks to me. Its not often I get to feel such an affinity for not one but two disciplines which are featured in a book, and everything has a comforting veneer of familiarity to me. However, even if I did not feel such a close relationship with the material, I would still rate this book very highly. Its a cracking good read, and I look forward to the next episode in the series with great anticipation.