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fineplan

Scavenging Book Stores and Libraries

Currently I'm a librarian and before that I was an archaeologist, a journalist, and definitely a bit of a world traveler.  I tend to mostly read science fiction and fantasy, though I do love a good mystery and I'm a bit of a book dabbler overall. I've been doing Goodreads for awhile, but a friend thought I might enjoy this as well. Let's see, yeah?

Pretty Good Mystery, Pretty Annoying Characters

The Visitant - Kathleen O'Neal Gear;W. Michael Gear

This is a hard book to rate.  It jumps back and forth between the present and the past, following a mystery -- what appears to be a prehistoric serial killer who stalked Anasazi villages.


Now the past stuff is pretty interesting.  I studied more Northern Plains and Southwestern US archaeology (with a small side of Alaskan and a dabbling, once, into North Mexican), so I can't tell you off the top of my head if the authors' Anasazi archaeology is valid or not.  Their bibliography indicates that they conducted plenty of research and one of my friends who is still in the archaeological field says her boss is friends with them.  It seems likely that they've got grounding in at least some theories of the area. (when it comes down to it, there's a lot we think is likely, but little we know for sure, so there tend to be many competing theories in archaeology -- who you respect, who taught you, etc. matters a lot as to what theories you believe)

 

The Gears do a great job of placing you in the exotic past (except for one character's name...  Browser...  I couldn't figure out what that was supposed to mean to the Native peoples in the book...  He window shopped instead of hunted?  His parents wanted to name him Internet Explorer but it hadn't been invented yet?  Anyway, for some reason his name kept pushing me out of the story).  We learn lots of interesting things about Anasazi religion and history and... there are some gory murders.  I didn't figure out who the killer was, but it was pretty satisfying once I got there.

 

Oh, back to Browser...  I also thought he was quite the scummy ladies' man, despite him apparently being super good in all other ways, so I was really annoyed with the other past protagonist who had the hots for him...  She was such a cooler character who could do a lot better for herself.

 

As for the present...  I honestly didn't get much out of it.  They used it for some foreshadowing, but otherwise it didn't seem to touch the mystery too much.  I can't figure out if it's just a frame story or if it will become more tied in later on in the series.  What I can tell you is that I found the portrayal of the anthropologists really irritating.  They did well, first off, capturing the camaraderie and joshing of an archaeological dig, but then it suddenly goes left with this weird idea that the archaeologist was only sucha  good one and a good guy because he'd been adopted into a Native American tribe and was one with their beliefs and so on.  Those can all be very good things, but I know plenty archaeologists who are great at their jobs, have fantastic relationships with tribes, have respect for them...  And still believe in science or Christianity or whatever.  You don't have to believe what other people believe to respect them.  You just need to be open to the fact that people believe different things and understand that some things are very important to them.  Treat those things with respect and we can all get along.  The physical anthropologist wasn't much better.  She was basically a caricature of one -- a mega "lab rat" and so stiff with her beliefs (though she got better later on, in some ways...).

 

Now, this was the first book in a series, so the mystery wasn't completely solved.  I'll try out the next book and see if it gets any better.  If it gets any worse I will be unlikely to finish the series.