cover image Much Ado in Maggody: An Ozarks Murder Mystery

Much Ado in Maggody: An Ozarks Murder Mystery

Joan Hess. St. Martin's Press, $15.95 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-312-02952-4

Women's lib comes to Maggody, a sleepy little Ozarks town where the distaff side is supposed to keep its place. Unfortunately, the movement is accompanied by murder and other unpleasantness. Head bank teller Johnna Mae Nookim, sole support of her husband and children, finds herself demoted when returning to work after having her third child. She tries to get police chief Arly Hanks, seen before in Mischief in Maggody , to arrest the bank manager; when that fails, Johnna Mae appeals to Women Aligned Against Chauvinism in the Office (WAACO) and the group's lawyer, Carolyn McCoy-Grunders. The women of Maggody rally to the cause, picketing the bank as well as demanding their rights at home. In the middle of the demonstration, the bank catches fire; the body of the new head teller, Brandon Bernswallow--a scion of the family that owns the bank--is discovered in the ruins. Arly 's investigation finds financial irregularities at the bank, pointing to a number of employees who might have had an interest in eliminating Bernswallow, who was himself apparently a blackmailer. While Hess still draws her characters broadly, Maggody and the engaging Arly begin to grow on the reader in this quite readable mystery. ( Aug. )