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Bibliophile reviews Lovely in her bones (mystery) by Sharyn McCrumb

Series detective: Elizabeth MacPherson
No. in series: 2
Year of publication: 1985
Type of mystery: Murder
Type of investigator: Amateur
Setting & time: North Carolina, USA, 1980's
Number of murders: 2 (+1)
Some themes:

Story: Elizabeth MacPherson and Milo, her brother's room-mate who is a physical anthropologist, are getting interested in each other and he agrees to let her participate in an archaeological dig in the Appalachians. The dig aims to prove the tribal status of the Cullowees, an ethnic group that has lived in the area for generations, but which is now about to lose its land to a mining company unless they can prove they are Indians and have the area declared a tribal land. Trouble begins brewing even before the dig begins, since it is obvious that one of the students is head over heels in love with the professor leading the dig, and one of the assistants is distinctly unpleasant and unlikeable. Then a murder is committed and suspicion falls on several of the expedition members, plus some of the inhabitants who feel they will be better off if the mining company gets the land.

Review: This is the second Elizabeth MacPherson mystery, and the first I have read in the series that actually fits that label. While someone who has an analytical mind and/or knows mystery story traditions will figure out the killer and motives early on, it is still interesting to see the mystery unravel. Elizabeth has a new obsession in every book, and this time around it's herbal medicine that she is fascinated with, along with a developing interest in archaeology driven by her interest in Milo (which will eventually lead her to study physical anthropology).
There is more plot than in the previous book in the series, but the characters are not as entertaining and there is less humour.

Rating: A mildly entertaining southern gothic mystery. 2+ stars.


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