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    Review of MALPRACTICE IN MAGGODY by Joan Hess (see her website)


    Simon & Schuster, January 2006

    The Maggody old-folks home has been sold and workmen are transforming it into--something. But nobody in Maggody knows what. They only know for sure that they have some old-folks that aren't being taken care of, but they come up with all sorts of fantastic ideas on what might be happening. To the point that the women in the missionary society arm themselves--with all of the danger that comes from firearms in the hands of the untrained. It isn't until police chief Arly Hanks is called in that she learns what's really going on at the former home--now the Stonebridge Foundation. A doctor has established an exclusive retreat for the rich and famous looking for a place to detox. The last thing Dr. Stonebridge needs is attention--the primary draw of the place is that it's below radar, but murder has a way of wrecking plans and the pretty receptionist was definitely murdered.

    There isn't much love lost between the staff and patients. Still, it's hard to imagine anyone murdering the young woman. She seemed something of a favorite with the patients--who could bribe her into breaking the rules, and both of the male doctors were attracted to her. Still, she is definitely dead and Hanks needs to find some motive. Things only get more complicated when one of the doctors dies--an apparent suicide.

    The charm of this story, as with the other mysteries in author Joan Hess's (see more reviews of novels by Hess) in the people of Maggody. From Arly's mother Ruby Bee Hanks who runs the cafe, to the members of the missionary society to the local sheriff and the good-ole-boy mayor (who owns the grocery store) everyone in Maggody is interested in what everyone else in Maggody is doing--and is happy to offer advice on how to do it. Hess manages to mix some real insights into stereotypes. Even when dealing with stereotypes, she recognizes and synthesizes the "ignorant rural hick" with the "noble true-American salt of the earth" into a composite that seems far more true than either of the extremes.

    If you're looking for a fun light mystery, MALPRACTICE IN MAGGODY is definitely one you'll want to grab.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 6/14/06

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