Olmec Obituary Synopsis :
Yearning for her former life as an archaeologist, Australian librarian Dr. Elizabeth Pimms is struggling with a job she doesn’t want, a family she both loves and resents, and enforced separation from her boyfriend.
A royal Olmec cemetery is discovered deep in the Mexican jungle, containing the earliest writing in all the Americas. Dr. Pimms is elated to join the team investigating these Aztec ancestors. Triumph is short-lived, however, as Elizabeth’s position on the team is threatened by a volatile excavation director, contradictory evidence, and hostile colleagues. With everything working against her, will Dr Pimms find the cause of death for a 3,000-year-old athlete and those buried with her?
With the archaeological intrigue of Elizabeth Peters, forensic insight of Kathy Reichs, and comfort of a cosy mystery, Olmec Obituary is the first novel in a fascinating new series: Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth. Really cold cases.
FACT: I devoured L J M Owen’s debut novel Olmec Obituary in a single day.
OPINION (based on many years of book-loving): If you are a fan of the TV series Bones, this is a book for you. If you are a foodie, this is a book for you. If you love libraries, this is a book for you. If you enjoy a cosy mystery filled with colourful characters you quickly become attached to, you guessed it, this is a book for you.
Owen has struck a lovely balance between compelling drama/mystery and relaxing digestibility – Olmec Obituary is the thinking person’s cosy mystery.
Her leading lady, Dr Elizabeth Pimms is an appealing mix of social awkwardness, emotional naivety and head-strong, academic passion.
Hoping to make a better impression on Nathan, Elizabeth reminded herself to run the making-friends protocol: show a little interest; ask personal questions; ensure you get a detail or two wrong when you recite their answers back later.
And her multi-cultural extended family, their rituals and the food they so lovingly prepare – just gorgeous. Oh, and for good measure there are narcissistic academics you just want to slap too.
Olmec Obituary is made all the more compelling by the glimpses Owen affords readers into the everyday lives of those who’s bones have been discovered. I was impressed also by the various devices Owen has used to surreptitiously weave fascinating historical and literary detail into the narrative. And the Agatha Christie novel/movie references – what more could a book lover want in a cosy!
Thankfully this is only the first title in a planned Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth Series. I look forward to seeing the mysterious back-stories and romantic seeds L J M Owen has sown in Olmec Obituary, blossom in Mayan Mendacity (Book 2) and Alexandrian Athenaeum (Book 3).
BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5
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Genre: Crime-Detective, Mystery, Drama, Romance, Historical
L.J.M. Owen drew extensively on her education and experience when developing the novel. Relevant qualifications include an undergraduate degree in archaeology and a PhD in palaeogenetics from ANU, and a graduate diploma in library management from Curtin University. Check out her website.
- Olmec Obituary has an interesting back story — A limited edition first run of this title was actually crowd-funded via Kickstarter in early 2015. That caught the eye of Echo Publishing’s commissioning editor Angela Meyer and voila!
* My receiving a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions in the review above.