#AWW2018 // Book Review: “Olmec Obituary” by L. J. M. Owen

Title: Olmec Obituary
L. J. M. Owen
Genre: Mystery
Target audience: Adult
Date Read: 2/12/18 – 7/12/18


I have to admit my main reason for wanting to read this book was because it contained a fictionalised version of my own workplace. And reading those sections was pretty awesome because I was all like, “Hee! I understand that reference!” But once that novelty wore off, I found myself a bit flummoxed by how much the author was trying to squeeze into one book.

Between complicated family dynamics, a new job for the main character, shady academic behaviour and flashbacks to the figures in the historical mystery, there was a lot to take in. I’m not entirely sure it worked.

Sometimes the historical scenes felt a bit more like filler. It was interesting to see a bit about the lives of those whose skeletons Elizabeth was analysing, but at the same time, that wasn’t something Elizabeth would ever be able to know from her work, so there was no real connection between the two timelines.

I also felt that a lot of the character development felt forced rather than natural. Someone would be generally coming across as a decent person, then they would out-of-the-blue say something rude or mean for what seemed like no other reason than to establish them as an adversary.

Having said that, overall, the writing style is quite readable and accessible. There were some info dumps regarding ancient history, archaeology and linguistics, but they were interesting enough that they didn’t feel too info-dumpy. I am always a bit hesitant about things like eidetic memory and dreams to help a character solve a mystery (both things that happen in this book) – they both make it a bit too easy in my opinion, but that is a matter of personal preference.

At this stage, I don’t feel like I’m going to go on to the subsequent books in the series, though I haven’t entirely written them off yet. I just don’t think it’s the kind of thing where I can read all of it back to back.

This review is part of my 2018 Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for more information.

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