cover image Maggody in Manhattan

Maggody in Manhattan

Joan Hess. Dutton Books, $18 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-525-93519-3

Some of the hardier citizens of Maggody, Ark., take on Manhattan and triumph. Ruby Bee Hanks visits New York for the finals of the Krazy KoKo-Nut cook-off, but ends up in jail for shooting a naked man in her bed. Daughter Arly (last seen in Mortal Remains in Maggody ) grudgingly comes to the rescue, even though doing so means returning to the scene of her failed marriage. Arly finds the food fest to be considerably less exciting than the promotional literature promised; held in the seedy and almost empty Chadwick Hotel, it proves a chaotic disappointment to both the contestants and the young people organizing it at the orders of their superiors, now conveniently out of the country. A teenage nymphomaniac, murder, drugs, a disappearing body, two love affairs and some unsporting shenanigans among the contestants make for confusion that only Arly can untangle, somewhat to the dissatisfaction of the local cops. Hess's risky decision to take her characters out of the Arkansas setting that has worked so well in five previous mysteries pays off with rousing success in one of the best ``country hicks vs. city slickers'' stories in a long time. (Sept.)