Martians in Maggody

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Dutton, 1994 - Fiction - 264 pages
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Arly (Ariel) Hanks is still chief of police in Maggody, Arkansas (pop. 755), a sleepy little town in the Ozarks where nothing ever happens - until the day UFOs, Martians, Bigfoot, and tabloid reporters descend on Maggody...and bring along a case of murder. The summer starts out normal enough. The molting neon sign outside the Flamingo Motel reads V CAN Y, Ruby Bee is serving up chicken-fried steak at her bar and grill, and somebody is making moonshine up on Cotter's Ridge. Then strange geometric designs appear in Raz Buchanan's cornfield. Before Arly can remind people that Raz Buchanan lives with a pedigreed sow named Marjorie, tells tall stories by the bushel, and is charging folks a dollar apiece to look at his land, the media is setting up a UFO watch. Soon hysterical reports of strange lights, silver-headed Martians, cattle mutilations, and a hairy creature with very large feet are pouring into Arly's office. Most pesky of all, however, is the arrival of a pair of reporters from rival supermarket tabloids and two "professors" who specialize in writing books about alien phenomena. And when Maggody's buxom newlywed, the 300-pound Dahlia Buchanan, agrees to undergo hypnosis to recount her abduction and impregnation by Martians, Arly figures things have gone a tad too far. But that's before she finds the dead body out by Boone Creek.
Now Arly's got a very down-to-earth puzzle on her hands, and she suspects it's directly connected to an extraterrestrial hoax. Only it's easier to believe a story about a dinosaur swallowing someone's Chevy than to find the real reason why some Maggody teenagers are telling lies, why Ruby Bee's best friend Estelle has disappeared, and what is really fishy about Dahlia Buchanan's trance. And then there's the unsettling matter of the mysterious orange lights Arly sees with her very own eyes. Believe it or not, every bit of this happens in Joan Hess's zany new outing to the hills of Arkansas where mystery is down-home - and delightful fun.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Jami_Leigh - LibraryThing

Plot: 2 stars Characters: 2 1/2 stars Style: 3 stars Pace: 2 stars Interchangable bumpkins, a plot that meandered and dragged, and while I knew I was picking up in the middle of a series (as one does ... Read full review


User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Hess, whose recent chronicles of Maggody (O Little Town of Maggody, 1993, etc.), Ark., have tended to import visitors who made the zany locals act even zanier, strikes a rich lode of lunacy when a ... Read full review


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About the author (1994)

Joan Hess is a writer and educator. She was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1949. She received a B.A. in art from the University of Arkansas in 1971 and an M.A. in education from Long Island University in 1974. For several years, she taught art in a private preschool. She has lectured at Southwest Missouri State University, the University of Arkansas, Rice University, and Xavier University. She is also a columnist for Mystery Scene Magazine. From 1982 to 1984, she wrote 10 unpublished romance novels. In 1986, she published Strangled Prose, which was chosen as the best first novel in the 1986 Drood Review Readers Poll and nominated for an Anthony Award. She is the author of Claire Malloy Mystery series and the Arly Hanks Mystery series. A Diet to Die For won the American Mystery Award for best traditional novel of 1989. A short story, "Too Much to Bare," received the Agatha Award and the McCavity Award in 1991. She also writes under the pen name Joan Hadley.