I spent a delightful couple of hours waiting in my car the other day while my Precious Redhead delayed coming out of her SAT test. It wasn’t her fault and to call the hours delightful is a stretch. But they were made better by a new mystery from author Gina Conroy, Digging Up Death.
This story had some real positives. First, the title and cover were intriguing. Learning from the back cover blurb that the main character was an archaeologist made me laugh. But then I’d never expect to find an archaeologist dressed like the gal on the front cover. Like I said, intriguing.
Here’s the info from the back cover:
To unearth a killer, you have to get your fingernails dirty. Archaeology Professor Mari Duggins is adjusting to life as a single mom, but she’s caught between the pull of her former flame and her ex-husband. When her colleague is murdered and her ex is accused of stealing an Egyptian artifact, Mari interferes in the FBI investigation, compelled to prove the innocence of her children’s father. Soon she is buried deep in suspects. Her old flame, her student and tenant, the office secretary. No one is who they appear to be, and she begins to wonder where her loyalty and true affections lie. Mari Duggins’ life caves in as she tries to excavate the truth, but realizes only God can dig her out of the hole she’s created. Will Mari sort through her muddled feelings and put her trust in someone else? Or will the truth bury her alive?
The mystery in this book sucked me in: an explosion heard over the phone, a death-by-natural causes dubbed a murder, stolen artifacts, and devious people surrounding the main character. Luckily, for me, more opportunities to read cropped up allowing me to finish the book in just a few days.
Halfway through day #2 I literally put my hand to my head and said, “Oh my gosh. I know what happened.” And what a lovely little twist it was! The whole situation wraps up neatly!
I can only give it 3 stars for a couple of reasons, though. (And if you’re familiar with my reviews, you know it’s hard for me to give 3 stars.) First, the romance in the story is not satisfying. As I got toward the end, all I could hear in my head was, “It’ll never last.” Well of course not! The story actually had two fairly equal heroes. Some chemistry on one side, complete devotion on the other. To just choose one at the end sparked all sorts of alarms.
Second, the main character had issues, and not the good kind that give a character depth and strengthen her arch. I felt through the first third of the book she was constantly angry and hated men in particular. A little too sarcastic and very self-absorbed, she did improve as the story moved forward. Her reactions displayed a wandering personality type, switching core values and archetype traits depending on the needs of the moment. This was specifically shown when she destroyed evidence. I can excuse a lot of things, but impeding a police investigation isn’t one of them.
Because she didn’t stay true to herself, her character didn’t work. I couldn’t begin to assign her to one or even a mixture of two archetypes. And because she seemed rather schizophrenic, neither of her fellows worked well with her. No wonder she couldn’t choose.
The mystery really did shine, though.