Monday, July 25, 2016

Review of "The Merry Wives of Maggody" by Joan Hess

In this 16th book in the Maggody series, Mrs. Jim Bob Buchanon - the mayor's wife - organizes a golf tournament to benefit 'golf widows.' Mrs. Jim Bob convinces a local moonshiner/pot grower to allow his property to be used for a temporary (very makeshift) golf course and bullies a ship retailer to donate a beautiful fishing boat (repossessed from a jailed drug dealer) as the prize for the first hole-in-one. The big boat is displayed in the parking lot of the local supermarket, where it's almost a tourist attraction.

The golf tournament - especially the boat - attracts a mixed bag of entrants including professional golfers, would-be pros, college students, high schoolers, and an ex-con. The players bring along spouses, parents, managers, acquaintances, and so on. In addition, many Maggody husbands and wives enter the tournament, though they've never played golf in their lives.

Tommy Ridner, a golf pro from nearby Farberville, makes a hole-in-one on the first day and can't stop bragging about everyone's annoyance. Unfortunately for Tommy he's soon found dead on the fishing boat, his head bashed in with a golf club. Soon afterwards Tommy's best friend is killed in a similar fashion.

Chief of Police Arly Hanks investigates the crimes with some help from the Farberville sheriff. It's not that easy though because Arly's pregnant, not feeling too well, and missing her boyfriend Jack, who's far away for work. In addition, the suspects - just about everyone connected with the tournament - are often drunk, high, elusive, and untruthful.

Much of the charm of the Maggody series lies in the fun characters like: Brother Verber - the local pastor who preaches fire and brimstone but secretly loves 'sacramental wine' and soft porn; Ruby Bee - Arly's nosybody mom who runs the local diner/motel and likes to 'help' with investigations; Estelle - the beehive-coifed beautician who hangs out with Ruby Bee; Raz Buchanon - whose pig Marjorie has her own favorite television shows; and the cleaning girl,'Perkin's eldest' - who vacuums a guest's room while wearing (only) loafers and a tie. In addtition, descriptions of the many inbred Buchanons that populate Maggody are very amusing.

Unfortunately, much of the fun is missing from this book. The murder investigation plods along; the secrets revealed aren't too interesting; and the characters are flat and not as entertaining as usual. I got a few laughs but - all in all - the book isn't as good as previous entries in the series.

Rating: 3 stars

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