cover image Martians in Maggody

Martians in Maggody

Joan Hess. Dutton Books, $18.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-525-93840-8

With a gusto sure to please Hess's multitude of fans, the 755 residents of Maggody, Ark., flock to Raz Buchanon's corn fields to speculate about the crop circles that have appeared there overnight. Soon TV crews, tabloid reporters and rival UFO scholars join the ranks, finding evidence of otherworldly visitation in the crop circles and a rash of cattle mutilations. Raz, whose close companion is a cantankerous pig named Marjorie, raises his admission charge from $1 to $5; a silver-suited alien is spotted walking on water across a creek. But then the assistant to one of the leading ufologists is killed. Police chief Arly Hanks, whose most recent case was chronicled in O Little Town of Maggody, has her hands full as Maggody's inhabitants pursue the possibility of alien life forms and prominence in tabloid headlines. While Arly questions Maggody's citizens and visitors, one of the ufologists is also murdered. Hess aims her barbed (and good-natured) sense of humor at tabloid journalism as well as at the foibles of her rural cast in this spirited mystery, the eighth in a series that gets tauter and funnier with every new episode. (Nov.)