Apple tea, a phrenic library and flash backs to Aztec life 3,000 years ago, this debut novel by Australian author LJM Owen is written for those who love crime, history or contemporary literature.
Olmec Obituary is the first in a series about Dr Elizabeth Pimms – Intermillenial Sleuth (the second was released in November 2016). The first few chapters start off slow, but the plot, for me, was promising enough to persevere. Described by the author as a cross between Bones and Midsomer Murders, Elizabeth is an archaeologist and librarian who solves really cold cases.
When Elizabeth moves back to Canberra from her dig in Egypt after her father dies suddenly, she takes up work in the Mahoney Griffin library (a fictional setting). It is work that doesn’t engage her, but which she endures to provide for her family. Then an opportunity arises to volunteer for an archeology team to study the remains found at a newly-discovered ancient burial site, and Elizabeth uncovers a centuries old mystery…or is it?
The novel is peppered with archaeology jargon and foreign words (Elizabeth’s multicultural family is part Welsh, French, Chinese), and there is a helpful glossary at the end of the book to aid in your understanding of these terms. Also, there are a few recipes at the end of the book if her family’s constant feasting leaves you feeling inspired (or hungry!).
The highlights of the novel for me were Elizabeth’s Skype conversations with Henry, a librarian in New York who helps Elizabeth untangle the mystery she finds herself embroiled in, if only there was more of them! He certainly seems an eminently more likeable character than her current boyfriend, Luke.
This book is a solid three stars. Not brilliant, but a good start to a series. I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series to see if some of the loose ends from the first novel are resolved (and if Elizabeth ditches Luke for Henry!).