cover image Misery Loves Maggody

Misery Loves Maggody

Joan Hess. Simon & Schuster, $22 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-684-84562-3

Fans of the Maggody (Arkansas) series (Malice in Maggody), and there are many, will revel in this entry, which boasts the usual cast of rednecks, salacious preachers and inbred miscreants who keep Ariel ""Arly"" Hanks, the town's female chief of police, ever alert. Arly's mother, Ruby Bee, is taking a four-day Elvis Presley Pilgrimage with her best friend, Estelle Oppers. Their five fellow travelers prove to be a smarmy and acrimonious group, and it quickly becomes apparent that they are not quite who they say they are. When Ruby Bee is hospitalized with some disturbing symptoms, Arly becomes involved in an investigation that soon encompasses the mysterious death of one group member and the disappearance of another. Total mayhem ensues as Estelle, whose egregiously unlawful behavior can be classified as an art form, tries to solve the mystery on her own, leaving Arly to clean up the mess--which grows to ensnare the mayor of Maggody, his shrewish wife and a preacher with his own agenda. Hess does again here what she has done so expertly before: keep a firm hand on outrageous characters whose peccadilloes are worthy of a French farce. Agent, Dominick Abel. Mystery Guild main selection. (Jan.)