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by Dana Cameron
Avon, April 2004
352 pages
ISBN: 0060554622

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Emma Fielding is the newest Fellow of the Shrewsbury Foundation, a private library of original source material. They have a copy of Margaret Chandler's diary. Since Emma, an archeologist, did some work at the Chandler house the previous summer, she is eager to get her hands on the diary. Emma is contemplating a month of pure research in the idyllic surroundings of western Massachusetts.

Emma arrives, only to be treated badly by the rent-a-cop head of security, but she finally gets to the house and is assigned her room. She learns about the other fellows: John Miner, studying the economic history of the Connecticut Valley during the Revolution (when he isn't too drunk to walk); Michael Glasscock, whose field is the American Transcendentalists (and a very strange louche creature); and Faith Morgan, whose field is antebellum fiction. She also meets Henry Saunders, the head librarian, and Sasha Russo, the manuscript librarian, who seem eager for her to start her studies.

Emma starts reading the diary, which seems to be one of a series. Margaret was a cultured Englishwoman, who came with her beloved husband, a judge, to the new land. She immersed herself in a new life, only to be accused of witchcraft when the local minister, who she had been dosing with a remedy for indigestion, dies unexpectedly, and odd numerical sequences start showing up in the midst of the daily entries in the journal.

Meanwhile, Faith returns from her time away from the foundation. It turns out that she and Emma were in graduate school at the same time. They knew each other slightly even though they studied different disciplines. The next morning, Emma, on an early run, finds Faith's body in a stream.

As usual, Cameron's forte is good characterization. Her people are just slightly off-center and one is drawn in by both the story and the inhabitants thereof. She may exaggerate character traits, but only slightly. This is the fourth book in the Emma Fielding series. The others are SITE UNSEEN, GRAVE CONSEQUENCES, and PAST MALICE, all of which take place in different locations. Start with this one and then go back and read the others. There are very few professional archeologists writing crime fiction. Cameron knows whereof she writes.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, May 2004

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