On the surface, archaeological mystery novels are not as popular and as widespread as, say, spy thrillers, romantic suspense, or paranormal mysteries. However if you really start to look closer at what authors have been publishing for years now, you’ll notice a constant trend of writing mysteries involving archaeology in one way or another.
Even novels that seemingly don’t have much with the theme of archaeology and digging the dirt for clues have in fact a lot of the elements of what makes a great archaeological mystery what it is.
Also, if you think about it, how could it not be? There is a strong connection between archaeology and mystery. Both archaeologists and detectives are looking for hidden clues and are trying to solve complicated puzzles (some more ancient than others), while at the same time hoping to bring mysteries to a satisfying conclusion (at least in part).
This is why there is an abundance of novels in this genrees going all the way to classics such as Agatha Christie (with her novels like Murder in Mesopotamia or Man in the Brown Suit). In fact you might have noticed that many fiction writers who focus on this topic have some real life ties to archaeology.
Agatha Christie’s husband used to be an archaeologist. Elizabeth Peters (real name Barbara Mertz) who wrote the Amelia Peabody series used to be an archaeologist herself. Sarah Wisseman, who wrote the Lisa Donahue mystery series, is an archaeologist as well.
How about Kathleen O’Neal Gear and Michael W. Gear, both contract archaeologists who devoted their time to bringing to life characters in books such as the famous Anasazi mysteries series? And last but not least, Beverly Connor who brought us two awesome archaeological mystery series, the Diane Fallon series and the Lindsay Chamberlain series has also worked as an archaeologist in Georgia and South Carolina?
Now of course not all archaeology mystery writers have a professional background in archaeology, but they still brought a lot to the table, and I’ll be reviewing many of such books in the future on this site.