Sixteen-year-old Amande Landreneau joins the cast of Mary Anna Evans’ Faye Longchamp mystery series in Plunder (Poisoned Pen Press: March 6, 2012 release). Amande’s intelligence, her interest in archaeology and her devotion to the woman who raised her cause Faye Longchamp to instantly identify the young girl as a kindred spirit.
Faye, her husband, Joe Mantooth, and their toddler, Michael, are all in Louisiana on an assignment for their newly formed archaeological firm. They have been hired to prepare an environmental impact statement to document area sites that will be damaged by the approaching Deepwater Horizon oil slick.
Amande, who lives in a shabby houseboat moored nearby, invites Faye and her family to meet her grandmother, Miranda Landreneu. Miranda has taken care of Amande ever since Amande’s mother, Justine, deserted her as an infant.
As Faye and Joe prepare to leave the houseboat after their visit, they discover of the body of Miranda’s son Hebert floating in the water. Hebert has suffered multiple stab wounds. A second murder, that of Miranda herself, soon follows.
Compounding Faye’s fears for Amande’s own safety is the appearance on the scene of Steve Daigle. Daigle, who was married to Justine, tells Amande that Justine has recently died of cancer.
With both Miranda and Justine dead, Amande now has no guardian. Steve, intent on increasing an inheritance from his dead wife that includes part ownership of the houseboat, a small island and some oil company stock, offers to take on that position. Faye, however, distrusts Steve and Miranda’s remaining two children, Dido and Tebo.
As with the six previous Faye Longchamp novels – Artifacts (2003), Relics (2005), Effigies (2007), Findings (2008), Floodgates (2009) and Strangers (2010) – Plunder contains a story-within-a-story. Amande’s ongoing journal entries recording her grandmother’s tales of long ago pirates Gola George and Henry the Mutineer pave the way for an exciting conclusion featuring modern day treasure hunters.
Readers of Plunder may miss the focus on Fay Longchamp that characterizes Evans’ earlier books. By allowing Amande to take the central role in this novel, however, Evans has succeeded in creating an intriguing new character whose presence will be welcomed in future series installments.
FTC Full Disclosure: A review copy of this work was provided by Poisoned Pen Press.