A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery
Gargoyle Girl Productions, August 2012
From the publisher—
When historian Jaya Jones receives a mysterious package containing a jewel-encrusted artifact from India, sent by her ex-lover the same day he died in a supposed accident in the Highlands of Scotland, she discovers the secrets of a lost Indian treasure may be hidden in a Scottish legend from the days of the British Raj. But she’s not the only one on the trail.
From San Francisco to London to the Highlands of Scotland, Jaya must evade a shadowy stalker as she follows hints from the hastily scrawled note of her dead lover to a remote archaeological dig. Helping her decipher the cryptic clues are her magician best friend, a devastatingly handsome art historian with something to hide, and a charming archaeologist running for his life.
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for a copy of Artifact by Gigi Pandian.
One of my bookclubs chooses mysteries by theme rather than by title or author and each member reads one or more books that fit the theme. This month, it’s “Scientific Occupations” so when I was given the opportunity to read Artifact, I thought, how perfect, I can kill the proverbial two birds and, hopefully, enjoy the double task.
And enjoy it I have. Artifact is a well-done entry in the field of archaeological mysteries with a taste of the historical British India that we westerners don’t often get. Jaya and art historian Lane Peters, a new acquaintance with an interest in the potential treasure, follow up leads to find the rest of the jewels and get to the bottom of why Jaya’s ex-boyfriend, Rupert, sent a piece to her. The fact that he died just after sending the package is too much of a coincidence and both Jaya and Lane have suspicions about the people they come across during the hunt.
Secondary characters, such as Professor Malcolm Alpin, Rupert’s best friend, Knox Bailey, and a pub regular named Fergus with a fervent belief in a dark fayrie known as the bean nighe lend a richness to the tale. (Even the Tuatha Dé Danann, a group of former Irish deities, come into the mix and that appealed to me as they are an integral part of another series I love dearly.) Twists abound and Jaya finds that there is much she doesn’t know about some of the people involved. Add in the gloomy, menacing environment of a rainy, rocky coast and an arrest that takes Jaya completely by surprise and you have the makings of an atmospheric, fast-paced mystery.
Ms. Pandian received the Malice Domestic Grant, awarded to foster unpublished writers working in the traditional mystery genre, and any readers who are reluctant to pick up a self-published novel can rest assured they won’t be wasting their time with this one. Ms. Pandian proved herself to people who are actively involved in and supportive of the good work of undiscovered mystery writers and she proved to me that they weren’t mistaken. Artifact is the first of a series and I am already looking forward to the next treasure hunt.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2012.