Evanly Choirs

Rhys Bowen, Author Minotaur Books $22.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-312-20539-3
Welsh Constable Evan Evans is conscripted to sing tenor in the town of Llanfair's male choir in the third book (after Evan Help Us) of Bowen's charming series. Soon after his first rehearsal, Evan and the other singers learn that world-famous operatic tenor Ifor Llewellyn will be returning home to Llanfair, renting out a clegyman's house. Before the great man's arrival, Evan overhears two strangers, male and female, fighting on the reverend's lawn. Later, when the young woman's car slides into a nearby lake, Evan saves her from drowning and gives her a lecture on attempted suicide. Before Evan can sort out these puzzling events, Ifor moves in. He delights the villagers by offering, as a favor to the choirmaster, with whom he roomed at college, to sing with the choir at the annual country-wide competition. But Ifor's vicious temperament and his volatile arguments with his wife leave the village perplexed. After Ifor misses an important rehearsal, Evan accompanies the choirmaster to visit the tempermental star--and finds his body in the drawing room. A bump on Ifor's head suggests an accidental fall, but an autopsy confirms Evan's suspicion that the man was murdered. Teaming up with his old friend Sergeant Watkins, the constable takes a close look at Ifor's private life, uncovering a neglected wife, a cast-aside lover, an angry son and a disdainful daughter. Between his singing debut and his bumpy romance with the town schoolteacher, Evan sorts through a humorous series of false confessions to catch the real killer. Picareque town characters compensate for the novel's lack of suspense and contrived plotting. Ultimately, it's Bowen's keen sense of small-town politics and gossip that will keep her fans turning pages. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
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