Come in and Cover Me by Gin Phillips

Come in and Cover Me

352 pages; Riverhead Hardcover
Available at: | Barnes & Noble
Thirty-nine-year old Ren is working on a dig in New Mexico, searching for Mimbres pottery that dates back to the 12th-century when she meets Silas, a fellow archaeologist whose methods are radically different that hers. While Silas dates objects by, say, counting the carbon in preserved prehistoric corn, Ren relies on a slightly less scientific method—visitations by tribal ghosts who show her how the bowls and jars were created. Novelist Phillips brings the culture and lives of these ancient people to life, as well as the fascinating details about the art of archaeology—from how a fallen bit of adobe can preserve a parrot feather to why coroners are required to examine bodies that date back 800 years. Interestingly, though, it's the personal details in this book that resonate. Ren's relationship with the past is more than professional: Her brother's death during her childhood has left her unable to connect to others, even Silas who, if things were different, she might be able love. It's this tension—between her belief that "The past was solid, weighable as cement...that it was done and over, and could be wrapped and stored without fear of it ever changing" and her awareness that she must re-examine what really happened 20 years ago in order create some kind of future for herself—that connect you to the book, both due to the subtle, evocative flashbacks and the relief at seeing for once, a woman character who is emotionally unavailable and a man who has to crack her tough shell, instead of the other way around.