Just when he’s settling into his cushy job as the youngest head of a university archeology department, with a new book in the works, and a sophisticated girlfriend, Frank Light is sent to a backwater town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to assess a construction site belonging to rich industrialist and TV personality, Jake Tement as a favor to the university president. Upset that his comfortable routine has been upended, Frank hopes to check the site, decide it’s of no historical importance, and get on with his life. But, things come unglued when he learns that the site is quite possibly a slave burial ground. With the help of Maggie Davis, one of his former students who is now a state archeologist, and Jefferson Allingham, a local preacher who is certain of the historical importance of the site, Frank finds himself at a crucial point in his life; should he just sign off on the site as Tement wants, or should he seek the truth.
Slave Graves by Thomas Hollyday is a tense drama, with the rich history of rural eastern Maryland woven seamlessly into a story that has more than enough action. I was particularly impressed with the way the author used Frank’s experiences in the Vietnam War to move the story forward to a most satisfying conclusion. For readers who are interested in some of the lesser known aspects of American history, this book is a gold mine of information, from the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, to the little known southern sympathies held by many rural Marylanders during the Civil War. The action is built, step by careful step ending in a dramatic, but satisfying conclusion. History and mystery, when well written as this book is, are a sure-fire good read.
I give it five stars.