Bone tired? World weary? Escape to the world of Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth. Really cold cases.
Dr Elizabeth Pimms has a new puzzle.
What is the story behind the tiny skeletons discovered on a Guatemalan island? And how do they relate to an ancient Mayan queen?
The bones, along with other remains, are a gift for Elizabeth. But soon the giver reveals his true nature. An enraged colleague then questions Elizabeth's family history. Elizabeth seeks DNA evidence to put all skeletons to rest.
A pregnant enemy, a crystal skull, a New York foodie, and an intruder in Elizabeth's phrenic library variously aid or interrupt Elizabeth's attempts to solve mysteries both ancient and personal.
With archaeological intrigue, forensic insight and cosy comfort, Mayan Mendacity takes readers back into the world of Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth. Really cold cases.
Dr L.J.M. Owen escapes dark and shadowy days as a public servant by exploring the comparatively lighter side of life: murder, mystery and forgotten women's history. A trained archaeologist and qualified librarian with a PhD in palaeogenetics, L.J. first published Olmec Obituary in 2015, bringing the Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth series to life. In Olmec Obituary L.J. introduced readers to a young Dr Elizabeth Pimms, who contends with ancient murder and family secrets in a world of archaeology, forensic science, libraries, food and cats. Dr Pimms' first outing has been described as "the thinking person's cosy mystery". L.J. spends as much time as possible creating Dr Pimms' world to provide refuge for bookworms everywhere. Recipes in the series are tested under strict feline supervision.
Author: Dr L.J.M. Owen
Interview with Dr L.J.M. Owen
Question: What inspired the story of Mayan Mendacity?
Dr L.J.M. Owen: Each book in the Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth series features a real woman from ancient history. One day, as I was poring through books and papers on ancient Maya rulers, I spotted an image of someone called -Lady Six Sky'. Someone had caved a huge, intricate relief of her on a city wall in the Guatemalan basin more than 1,300 years ago. She was a fierce head kicker – literally! I was captivated. The more I looked into Lady Six's story the more convinced I became that she had to be the main historical figure in Mayan Mendacity.
As I continued to research her I pieced together what Lady Six Sky may have looked like. Compared to our society, the seventh century Maya had quite different ideas about what constituted beauty. Women with exceptionally high foreheads, severely crossed eyes and teeth sharpened to points were highly sought after. Once I had a picture of Six in my mind I couldn't let her go.
Each book in the Dr Pimms series also features a civilisation's writing system. The Maya not only had a beautiful, intricate system of highly colourful glyphs but they had huge, complex libraries as well. The position of head librarian, or Great Scribe, was not one to aspire to however. Not only was the head librarian the chief media and PR person for their ruler, charged with writing propaganda plays and speeches for the leader, their importance made them a prime target during times of war. Being a librarian was a dangerous occupation in ancient Maya.
Once I knew about Lady Six Sky and the perilous lives of Maya librarians I couldn't help but write Mayan Mendacity!
Question: How did you use your own background to include archaeological intrigue in Mayan Mendacity?
Dr L.J.M. Owen: Archaeology and ancient history are deep passions of mine, including forgotten women's history. I have an honours degree in archaeology and biological anthropology (a broad field that includes human genetics and forensics) as well as a PhD in palaeogenetics (the genetics of past human populations).
This meant, when I first sat down to write a series of nine books containing archaeological mysteries, that I had lots of ideas about what readers might find intriguing. I'd come across bizarre information about human genetics and skeletal remains while studying, so I listed it all out and picked one or two strange things to include in each book. My background means I've also practiced most of the archaeological and forensic science techniques I describe in the books, which is helpful when it comes time to write about them.
Before drafting each Dr Pimms book I research the archaeology of the featured civilisation extensively. I have a teetering pile of academic tomes on the Maya in my study. I read everything I could find on the politics, religion, art, architecture, food, writing systems and libraries of the Maya before writing Mayan Mendacity.
And for readers who are interested in finding out, I provide a list of suggested reading at the end of each novel.
Question: What's next for Dr Elizabeth Pimms?
Dr L.J.M. Owen: Interesting question! When we first meet Elizabeth, at the start of Olmec Obituary, she's a passionate archaeologist and Egyptologist. By the beginning of Mayan Mendacity she's added -reluctant librarian' to that list. Her best friend, Tanya, describes Elizabeth as -curious, intellectual, tenacious and secretive'. As her creator, I would add -a touch naïve'. Elizabeth has a growing sense that something is awry in her world, something she can't quite put her finger on…
In each instalment of Dr Pimms, Elizabeth explores an ancient civilisation through its archaeological remains, while readers catch a glimpse of that culture through the eyes of an historic figure. In Olmec Obituary the reader was introduced to the Olmec obsession with corn, fertility and the Great Ballgame by Ix, a 3,000 year old female player of that gruelling and deadly sport. In Mayan Mendacity the reader sees the life of ritual, sacrifice and political intrigue that Lady Six Sky, princess of Mutul, was born to.
Over the remainder of the series Elizabeth, and readers, will explore murder, mystery and forgotten women's history in ancient Europe, Asia and Middle East. At the beginning of Book Three Elizabeth is headed back to Egypt with Henry, her New York librarian friend. Along the way she'll encounter one defleshed ancient philosopher, Egypt's first archaeologist, and a terminal case of milk and honey. I can't wait to it write!
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Author: Dr L.J.M. Owen