It was an overcast day, unusual for a Saturday at the beginning of summer in my hometown. I was alone in the quiet house, sequestered on my chair, lap rug tucked around me, tea steaming beside me. My ever-present fur family curled into vacant spots here and there. I picked up the papercut-esque, red-covered book and cracked it open. As I read, the tales of LJM Owen drew me in.
Olmec Obituary (Echo Publishing, ISBN-13: 978-1760404093) is the first of the Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth series. Here you will meet Elizabeth Pimms, an educated young woman who, through loyalty to her family, places her career and love life on hold to help when tragedy strikes. As the story unfolds, Elizabeth, librarian by day, archaeologist by night, stumbles on a mystery from the Olmec times. Ancient writing, the death of an athlete, and a number of skeletal remains start the mind racing. Who do the bodies become to and just how old is that writing in reality?
I have always been drawn to cozy mysteries. As a kid, there was either a Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys series or an Agatha Christie book sitting on the top of my ‘to be read’ pile. Owen’s world and writing style brought back found memories of these times – curled up under the covers, flashlight in hand. This book covers two stories: one set in today’s Canberra, Australia with our intrepid Dr Pimms and the other is set in the Olmec times. The two stories weave together to help the reader deduce who the villain is and to help unmask them for the world to see.
Beware: Olmec Obituary is Owen’s debut novel. It is well written and is an enjoyable read; however, it suffers from some of the ‘first novel syndrome’ seen in many debuts. In this book, you will find a large proportion of exposition writing to set up Elizabeth’s world. Some readers might also find the description of either the scientific investigation or bodies or the blood sport played by the Olmec to be confronting. Owen does caution that each of her books has a graphic scene in them.
I have gifted these book many times since it was first published. It is a good read for those who love cozy mysteries or have an interest in archaeology, cats, tea, food, books, and a love for family. You will walk away from this book feeling uplifted and wanting to grab the next in the series.
As a side note (and one that I will continue to include in each new review of this series), the Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth series is ideal for any young woman in your social sphere. One of the continued themes of the books is that the ability to be successful in your chosen world is not dependent on your gender but on your drive. Elizabeth Pimms is an amazing character demonstrating that, with determination, anything can be done.
Genre: Mystery (Cozy)
Reading Level: Young Adult, Adult
Rating: 4 out of 5 sleepless nights