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Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Tale of Titles, Part Quattuor

I'm still counting in Latin.  If I'm doing it wrong, it is not my-daughter-the-Latin-scholar's fault.  She is sleeping late, because it is the first day of her summer vacation, so I am on my own.

Okay, quattuor equals four, so I'm up to the fourth book, Findings.  My friend Julie had suggested this title early on.  I liked it because it speaks of archaeology, which is all about finding things.  When investigating a murder, detectives are all about finding clues, so that angle worked, too.  A title works best for me when it has multiple meanings, and I knew that "finding" was also a term for the tiny loops of metal that jewelers use to attach jewels to jewelry.  I decided that this book needed to revolve around a piece of jewelry.

For some reason, I decided early on that the jewelry would be made of emeralds.  Why?  I don't know.  I don't look good in green, so have never lusted for emeralds of my own.  As it turned out, the fact that emeralds are green figured into the plot.  It is amazing sometimes to see the links my subconscious makes before my conscious mind is ready to do anything about them.

The book kicks off with a bang.  Faye is cleaning her finds and an innocuous-looking lump of dirt turns out to be an emerald the size of a ripe plum.  She gives it to a friend to keep in his safe and leaves for home, but is called back within the hour, because he has been beaten to death.  The room has been ransacked, but nothing was taken except Faye's field notes.  Even the emerald is safe, because her friend managed to hide it.  But why were the thieves there?  How could they possibly have found out about the emerald in that short space of time?  Why didn't they take any of her wealthy friend's possessions?  And what on earth did they want with Faye's field notes?

To find the answers, Faye takes a tour of civil war history by reading the wartime love letters written by a Confederate official to his wife.  The mention of an emerald necklace intrigues her, but even if this man is the source of her mysterious emerald, it doesn't answer the question of how the jewel came to be buried on her property.  It doesn't solve the uncomfortable problem that she signed those stolen field notes, so it is only a matter of time before the thieves come for her.  And all the while, the golden finding that once attached that emerald to a fabulous necklace is resting in a museum for all the world to see...

Findings is the only book of mine, so far, with a plot that stems wholly from ideas that came to me when I named the book.  I love that glittering emerald, and I love it that it dominates the cover of the book.  Let me close by showing you how well Patrick the Genius Cover Artist used the emerald on the dustjacket:

Findings (Faye Longchamp)

Happy reading!
Mary Anna

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