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    Review of THE MERRY WIVES OF MAGGODY by Joan Hess


    Minotaur, January 2010

    Police Chief Arly Hanks is struggling with her unplanned pregnancy. The last thing she needs is a golf tournament. But the wives of Maggody, concerned for the 'golf widows' they've read about, have decided Maggody needs a golf tournament. With a $40,000 bass boat being the prize for anyone who sinks a hole in one, and Maggody's gold course being a plowed-up marijuanna field, just about everyone in Maggody, and plenty from outside the town, is interested.

    Hanks plans to simply wait out the tournament with its host of weird and not-so-wonderful characters but those plans come up short when someone actually manages a hole in one--and is promptly beaten to death inside the prize boat. According to contest rules, the winner must be present, and alive, to win, which means the tournament goes on and just about everyone has a motive.

    Author Joan Hess (see more reviews of mysteries by Hess) keeps the humor cranked to maximum, with the assortment of Buchanon relatives (including Popeep, Mrs. Jim Bob and the rest.

    Hess gives us plenty of suspects and red herrings, a mostly-sympathetic character in Arly Hanks, and humor that fires on all barrels, mostly hitting but with a few misses. I thought the mystery a little bit easy, and there were times when Hess's poking fun at the Arkansas bumpkins crossed the line from funny to mean-spirited. Still, the writing was highly approachable, the characters memorable, and the laugh-out-loud moments distinctly outweighing the groaners (I mean, a golf tournament to benefit 'golf widows.' That's got to generate a smile.)

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 5/07/10

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