Thursday, March 21, 2013

Earth Colors by Sarah Andrews, a Book Review



I read a lot of mysteries.  Sometimes, in the winter when the weather is bad, I will read as many as eight in a month.  Usually I get the books from the local library and that is where I found Earth Colors by Sarah Andrews.  I liked this book so much that I bought two copies, one for myself and one for my daughter who has a masters in geology.The mystery revolves around a Remington painting.  Is the painting authentic or a copy?   The sleuth is Em Hansen, a geologist looking for a subject for her master's thesis.

What, I , as a mystery reader, really want is a good entanglement where right triumphs over wrong in a few hundred pages.  Mysteries are an escape for me from the entanglements of real life where motives and solutions only evolve over years of a person's lifetime.  And Sarah Andrews provides this escape, along with interesting and believable characters, some of whom appear over and over in the series.

What makes this book different from most  mysteries is not only the amount of information Sarah Andrews incorporates about geology in general but also the history of pigments and their relationship to the geology of  Pennsylvania which she explores as the mystery progresses. Being an artist, I found that history  interesting as well as the information about analyzing those pigments which Em Hansen learns.

Sarah Andrew's thoughts on environmental issues are always interesting to me, too, and come up in other books of this series.  One of her characters in this book, Jenny, said something that impressed me so much I added it to my little book of inspiration to live by.

Jenny and Em, the geologist, are discussing how Jenny is able to maintain a happy attitude when she loses battles to preserve significant features of the landscape.  Jenny tells Em about the chestnut tree blight  that  destroyed all the chestnut trees in the eastern United States many years ago. There are still very old stumps sending up new sprouts.  The sprouts die when they reach a flowering age because the blight kills them.  These are wonderful trees, extremely rot resistant.  A person can still find barns and homes built with chestnut lumber.  Scientists have been working for years to find a way to counteract the blight.

Jenny tells Em,  "Nothing lasts forever in this world, not even blight.  So I think I'll just honor my roots and keep on sending up my sprouts."

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