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Four moon gifCumberland House (Hardcover), ISBN 1581821239
Some knowledgeable members of the mystery community claim that small presses hold the winning hand in the genre's publishing game. If so, the gods of publishing dealt Cumberland House a royal flush with Beverly Connor's Lindsay Chamberlain series and aced it with her latest book, Airtight Case.

Book: Beverly Connor, Airtight CaseConnor draws on her expertise as archaeologist and pens yet another authentic, well-documented, compelling story with surprising yet realistic twists and complications. Airtight Case ranks, hands down, as Connor's best, most perfect mystery novel to date.

Lindsay Chamberlain rises from the dead in this book's powerful opening pages. Someone for some unknown reason buried her alive. Lindsay escapes her grave, but part of her memory, her serenity and courage desert her. The amnesia subsides, yet some gaps remain. Determinedly, Lindsay proceeds with her life, trudging to her next assignment, the excavation of an 1830s farm site on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. But she can't leave her problems behind.

Book: Beverly Connor, A Romor of BonesElements of the past, present and future weave together at this historic site. Mysteries surface concerning the families who built the homestead. Unexplained behaviors pit member against member in the archaeology team. Accusations of murder cast shadows over the whole group. Tempers turn ugly. Lindsay sees a ghost, and her would-be murderers hover on the horizon.

A legion of NASA technicians and their Star Wars equipment descend on the archaeology site. They seek to capture a whiff of untainted, 100-year-old air while providing a techno-glimpse at the future.

Connor's ability to blend present day crime with historic mysteries and murders proves masterful. Her knack for characterization brings history and the dead to life, while her 21st century personalities endear and irritate us like the real thing. Information about archaeology and forensics weaves unobtrusively through the plot.

Every aspect of Connor's story revolves around a mystery or a quest for the truth. From working the dig site to deciphering old poems to finding out the value of an old woman's collections to discovering who buried Lindsay alive, readers follow the trail of clues.

Connor also hones her narrative skills and offers tighter, smoother writing, which lends the entire project a more authoritative voice. Readers can trust the author not to let them down. Some reviewers complained about the ending, but I thoroughly enjoyed the final little bow that tied up the last element in the bundle of questions.

If possible, readers new to the series should savor each book in the order, beginning with A Rumor of Bones. Luckily, the series will soon appear in paperback. But if you just can't wait -- and fans of the series can't -- pick up Airtight Case and fasten your seat belts.

Dawn Goldsmith

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