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by Sarah Andrews
St Martin's Minotaur, March 2004
304 pages
ISBN: 0312301979

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

As with many geologists, Sarah Andrews has multi-disciplinary interests. Her training in art was the inspiration for EARTH COLORS, the ninth Em Hansen adventure.

Em Hansen and Faye Carter Latimer are in Cody, Wyoming. Em, who has moved in with Faye since the death of her husband, is walking along with seven-month-old Sloane Renee Latimer in a backpack, hoping that Faye is getting a much-needed nap before her business meeting. Em runs into her old oil-field boyfriend, Frank, in the doorway of a coffee shop, and they go in and talk about what has been going on since Em left the field for office jobs.

Faye is in Cody to discuss a job with the Krehbeil family. Frank is immediately on the alert and tells Em that those people are up to no good, but Em doesn't want to interfere in what is essentially none of her business. After all, she still blames herself for Faye's husband's death in KILLER DUST.

Em meets the client, Tert (for Tertius, The Third) Krehbeil. She doesn't trust him but she doesn't know if that's because he seems to be taking her place with baby Sloane or because he is not a good person. She agrees to take the job, which entails attempting to authenticate the pigments used in a painting to authenticate the painting itself. The task seems to be suitable for a geologist, since most old pigments were minerals, and, in fact, her thesis adviser thinks it's a good thesis subject also, so Em accepts and buries herself in research material while Faye gets more involved with Tert.

EARTH COLORS may be only peripherally involved with geology, although the thesis is valid and one should be able to identify pigments by their mineralogical content (gemstones can be identified as to original location that way). I think, though, that the current authenticators would get a bit upset if another group, such as forensic geologists, decided to set themselves up in the same field, but the book is worth reading. If you haven't found the Em Hansen series yet, then you have eight others to look forward to.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, March 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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