Manuela’s ARC Review of “Catacombs” by Mary Anna Evans

By: Manuela Soares

Available for purchase August 13, 2019

“Evil must be obliterated.”

An explosion rocks an Oklahoma City hotel, killing only the bomber and ripping a hole in the hotel’s walls revealing an underground system that a century ago housed Chinese immigrants who lived underground due to the hatred and discrimination they faced above. With an immediate FBI response, one bombing victim is Archaeologist Dr. Faye Longchamp-Mantooth who, along with her husband and distant cousin-in-law movie, actor and composer Cully Mantooth, is in town for a conference on Native American artistry and indigenous crafting.

Given her prior experience with the FBI, she’s asked to team up with FBI agents Micah Ahua (Assistant Special Agent in Charge), Liu, and Goldsby, to investigate the re-discovered area and what connection it may have to the bomber. Alongside Patricia Kura, an engineer from the Oklahoma City Department of Public Works, they delve down into the re-opened area only to discover the remains of three small children in an intricately painted room. This discovery is what gets the story going and Faye finds herself in the center of a confounding situation that leads readers in one direction, only to twist them in another when least expected.

As the story continues to unfold, people go missing and when they’re found and the person responsible for everything is revealed (as well as their motive) it leaves readers surprised, at least it left this reader surprised. I was not expecting it to unfold as it did, but I thoroughly enjoyed how everything was revealed and the motive behind the book’s events.

I very much enjoyed the characters and the relationships between them, both new and old, in this book. Faye felt surprisingly realistic to me, she didn’t come across as some one-dimensional, easily forgettable character (which shouldn’t be surprising as this is the 12th Faye Longchamp book); she’s relatable and knowledgeable about the career field she’s in. I also really liked the realistic nature of the relationship between her and her husband, Joe, and the budding relationship between Faye, Joe, and Cully. Faye and Joe have their arguments, but I could still tell how much they loved and respected one another. As this is the first book I’ve read in the series, I’m looking forward to reading the others and seeing how their relationship began and developed over the previous 11 books.

One thing that fascinated me about the ‘bad’ character is that Evan’s wrote them and their storyline so well that I sympathized with the character and understood their reasoning for what they did, even if it wasn’t morally or legally right. That’s something that impressed me as I don’t typically feel bad for the ‘bad’ characters in the books I read.

Catacombs (#12 in the Faye Longchamp series but can be read as a stand-alone) is a great way to be introduced to a new author and series character, Mary Anna Evans has certainly got me hooked on her writing and her character Faye; the storytelling reminds me a lot of Iris Johansen’s (one of my absolute favs) and her character Eve Duncan. I love the way Evans writes and how she seamlessly mixes fiction and non-fiction items together (ex. The historical Chinese underground city with her original storyline).

The introduction to the factual underground Chinese immigrant settlement was incredible to learn about, it makes me wonder just how many other underground settlements there are around the country whose knowledge has been lost to time. You can read more about the underground settlement here, here, and here.

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Poisoned Pen Press for an Advanced Readers Copy of this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to reading the other books in Faye’s series and what adventure awaits her in the future.

You can check it out on Goodreads or, if interested, pre-order/purchase it on Amazon or on Book Depository*.

This review is also be posted on Fathoms Amidst the Lines and Goodreads.

*Book Depository affiliate link. I receive a portion of any commission made from using this link.

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