O Little Town of Maggody
Chief of Police Arly (Ariel) Hanks is still hiding out in her hometown of Maggody, Arkansas (pop. 755), the land of moonshine and Ruby Bee's Bar & Grill, country roads and Nashville on the radio, cheatin' hearts and, well, maybe murder. It all starts when Matt Montana, country music's number one superstar of the year, decides it's a great PR move to come home to Maggody for the holidays. For a town in the grip of a recession, the news means Christmas is bringing a savior. Mrs. Jim Bob Buchanan, the mayor's wife, quickly sets up the Matt Montana Official Souvenir Shoppe, the amply endowed Dahlia Buchanan drives tourists around in the "Matt-mobile, " and beer costs two dollars a bottle at the Matt Montana Hometown Bar & Grill. Only one thing is missing: Aunt Adele, Matt Montana's one and only living relative. The elderly lady has mysteriously disappeared from the local nursing home, and Arly - even with the loan of the Fayetteville's PD's tracking dog - can find neither hide nor hair nor corpse of her. Now Arly gets to peek behind the scenes at a singing star's very private life to discover the manager who isn't above using blackmail, the wife who may be willing to kill to keep her man, and the pretty young singer who is giving Matt Montana an achy breaky heart. Is one of them a killer? Why has Dahlia Buchanan confessed to murder? What did happen to Aunt Adele? And what does moonshiner Raz Buchanan's pig Marjorie have to do with it all? Since Arly is the smartest, spunkiest, most off-beat sleuth in the Ozarks, it's up to her to save Christmas and restore order to the wacky, delightful community of Maggody, where anything can happen - and usually does.
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ISBN 0451404572 – You know those people who tell sort of bad jokes and find themselves wildly amusing, while all you can do is roll your eyes? That’s this Joan Hess book for me. And surely someone out there finds her amusing, because someone’s buying the books – but I’m just rolling my eyes.
Arly’s always got her hands full in Maggody, but this Christmas things are getting a little more hectic. The town is slowly dying, but there’s hope on the horizon in the person of Matt Montana, Maggody’s own prodigal son. He’s serving his own career and the people of Maggody would benefit from a bit of tourism… so Matt’s on his way to town. The problem is that Matt’s Aunt Adele has gone missing. Arly is also trying to riddle out the moving city limits sign, deal with Dahlia’s jealousy and suspicions about what Kevin’s up to, the return of Hammett and a myriad of other goings-on in Maggody.
Arly Hanks reminds me of ISBN 0425182908 Isle of Dogs, but not quite as awful. In fact, not awful at all, just… dumb. The same “this is funny, really, you should laugh” feeling runs through both books, but they’re just not – to me. The characters are so stereotypical that they’re miles beyond amusing and closer to stupid. If you enjoy the tongue-in-cheek style, lightly mocking the mystery genre, you’re going to enjoy Hess, and fans of Arly Hanks will like the book far more than I. Hess herself gave me a quote I couldn’t pass up: “Writers …they’re so goofy nobody cares what they do.”
Policewomen -- Arkansas -- Mystery