A Rumor of Bones: A Lindsay Chamberlain Mystery

BOOK: A Rumor of Bones: A Lindsay Chamberlain Mystery
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WHAT REVIEWERS ARE SAYING ABOUT
THE LINDSAY CHAMBERLAIN SERIES...

"... calls to mind the forensic mysteries of Aaron
Elkins and Patricia Cornwell ... with her own brand of
spice as a pert and brainy scholar in the forensic
analysis of bones"

-Chicago Sun Times

"... combines smart people, fun people, and dangerous people in a novel hard to put down"

-Dallas Morning News

"... ingenious plot, intriguing character, and a mystery
as well hidden as rubies on a beach"

-Booklist

"... uses archaeology as a general setting that promises
well for future books."

-Mystery Review

"What Lindsay is to forensic anthropology, Kay Scarpetta is to forensic pathology with one significant
difference. Lindsay is a warmer character than Ms.
Cornwell's famous protagonist."

-Harriet Klausner, Internet Reviews

"... an excellent murder mystery."

-Midwest Book Review

.. as chock-full of engrossing anthropological detail
as a newly discovered burial mound."

-The Tennessean

"... intelligent, riveting and dynamic plots"

-Romantic Times

"Chamberlain is a fascinating, offbeat, and always be-
ievable sleuth; settings and supporting characters are
equally realistic and intriguing, and the story satisfies
both as a mystery and as an entree into the fascinating
world of bones and what they tell us about human
behavior. Add Connor's dark humor, and you have a
multidimensional mystery that deserves comparison
with the best of Patricia Cornwell. Expect to hear
more from Lindsay Chamberlain."

-Booklist

 
A RUMOR OF
BONES
A LINDSAY CHAMBERLAIN MYSTERY

Beverly Connor

To my husband,
Charles Connor

OTHER LINDSAY CHAMBERLAIN TITLES

Questionable Remains

Dressed to Die

Skeleton Crew

Airtight Case

 
Acknowledgments

SEVERAL PEOPLE HAVE assisted me in making
this book possible and making it a better book as well.
First, my husband, Charles Connor, who read and
reread my manuscript, made valuable suggestions
(many of which have made it into this book), and generally put up with me during the process.

Many thanks to Harriette Austin, my creative writing teacher and mentor, and to Judy Iakovou, Jim
Howell, Diane Trap, Alice Gay, Takis Iakovou, Dannah
Prather, Valerie Towler, Julia Cochrane, and members
of Harriette's writing workshop who read the various
drafts and made frank and invaluable comments on the
manuscript.

A special thanks to my agent, Bob Robison, for
having so much faith in me.

And finally, I want to acknowledge and thank my
parents, Edna P. Heth and Charles W. Heth, for raising me to love books and to like the kinds of things
that I like.

Thanks to all of you.

 
A RUMOR OF
BONES

Here and there there are scattered white objects which glisten
in the sun, and stand out against the dull deposit of alkali.
Approach, and examine them! They are hones: some large
and coarse, others smaller and more delicate.

-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A Study in Scarlet

The valley ... was full of bones ... and to, they were very dry.

-Ezekiel 37:1-2

 
Chapter 1

THE MIST ROSE from the uncovered graves like a
spirit. Soon the sun would rise above the horizon and
burn off the haze, and the site would be alive with the
activity of archaeologists. But now, in the predawn
hours, it was a mystic place-silent, stranded
between the past and present. This was the time of
day when Lindsay loved the site best. She could
almost breathe in the past.

Now, in the dim light, she could almost see the tall
wooden palisade constructed from rough-hewn trees
surrounding the village. Inside, she saw square wattle
and daub houses with thatched roofs built around a
plaza. Smoke rose from a central chimney hole in the
middle of the broad, cone-shaped roofs and drifted
southward with the breeze. Lindsay saw racks holding skins being tanned, others holding meat and fish
being smoked and dried.

She saw people-beautiful, dark-haired, dark-eyed, elegantly-boned people. In a house she could see one
woman grinding corn on a metatae, another picking up
discarded flaked chert debris and cutting up squash,
pokeweed, chenopodium, and scaling fresh fish.
Another woman was stamping designs onto freshly
made pots. Children ran in, grabbed nuts and muscadines from a clay bowl, and ran out laughing. A man
was sitting close to the hearth, chipping away at a
piece of black flint, making points for his arrows.

Outside the house, older children were playing a
game, throwing spears at smooth stone disks that other
children rolled in front of them. They all looked up as a
hunting party came walking into the palisade pulling a
travois laden with freshly killed deer and wild turkey.
The hunters had also killed a bear, and the people ran
to them to hear the story of the hunt. Beyond the
palisade was a field of corn. Not large, but enough to
feed the village. A small group of women tended the
field under the protective eyes of two braves.

Lindsay looked beyond the village and fields. She
could see the conquistadors riding in the distance, hot
and heavy in their armor, brandishing their weapons.
Would they find the village? Lindsay couldn't see
that. They hadn't yet.

Faint sounds of a vehicle brought Lindsay's
thoughts back to the present, and the village dissolved
back to the smooth, tan, shovel-shaved two acres of
ground marked with the dark stains and littered with
unearthed artifacts of past habitation. She looked over
to the dirt road leading to the site and squinted, trying
to make out the vans that brought the field crew from
town, but she saw only a dim cloud of dust. Suddenly,
Derrick came into view.

"Time tripping again, are we, Lindsay? What do
you see?"

She smiled at him. "Caught me. I was looking at
the conquistadors riding in the distance. We haven't
found any European artifacts yet, have we?"

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