Evans Above by Rhys Bowen

Publication Info: Published November 15th by St. Martin’s Press. I read the Kindle edition courtesy of my local library. Other editions and publishers available. This is the first book in the Evan Evans series.

Summary: The town of Llanfair is nestled between the peaks of Glyder Fawr and Yy Wyddfa in Wales. The mountains are popular hiking spots for tourists and locals. The Everest Inn, run by Major Anderson, rents rooms to the tourists. Evans Above

One day, Major Anderson alerts Constable Evan Evans that a hiker staying at his inn has gone missing. A few hours later, a body is found at the base of a cliff, obviously dead from a fall. But then another body is found nearby, also the victim of a fall. The detectives called in to investigate declare the two deaths as unfortunate, coincidental accidents, but Constable Evans suspects they were murdered. After a third hiker is found a few days later with his throat slit, it is obvious there is a killer wandering the hills above Llanfair.

Comments: Despite the number of murders in this book, it falls on the edges of the cozy mystery category. I’d call it a gentle police procedural. The book is peopled with quirky characters. Between investigating the murders, Constable Evans has do deal with such crimes as trampled vegetable beds and a missing apple pie.

I found Evans Above to be a completely charming story. I’ve reviewed other Rhys Bowen books and am a fan of her writing. When I could finally get my hands on her first book, I was delighted. While it is obviously less polished than her later work, I was not disappointed and plan to read more in the series. (Rhys Bowen did publish a few things before Evans Above under a different name. A list of her works and her bio can be found on her website https://rhysbowen.com).

Recommended for readers of cozy mysteries and mystery fans looking for something a bit lighter. And, of course, for anyone who loves Rhys Bowen’s books!

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Brief Mentions

I’m a bit off-schedule. I broke my foot and had surgery just over a month ago. Doc ended up putting a wire in my foot. For about 2-3 weeks, I was pretty much confined to my bed or the recliner, with my foot elevated. This meant I initially did a lot of reading and I did manage to put up a flurry of book reviews. Doing nothing but reading and screen time on my iPad/iPhone gave me eye strain. Once I became just a tad more mobile –I’m on one of those knee scooters– I really had to catch up on other things and get away from reading for a while to let my eyes rest.

I’m still on the knee scooter and unable to walk on my left foot. Doc will remove the wire in a couple of weeks and I can then start baby-stepping into a bit more normalcy. Healing is a long, slow process!

I did listen to some older-title books on audio or my kindle, where I could crank the font up.

1. The Last Mile by David Baldacci. (Amos Decker #2). Publication date: April 2016.

Brief summary : Decker helps a man who got a last-second reprieve on death row for the murder of his parents. Someone else confessed to the crime, but it soon becomes apparent that there is more to the story.  Comments: I really enjoyed reading this book. I’ve been a Baldacci fan for over 20 years. He knows how to spin a good yarn. Unlike many other writers with dozens of best-selling books, he hasn’t rested on his laurels. He has honed his craft over the years and hasn’t lowered his standards. I’m looking forward to the next 2 books in the Amos Decker series (The Fix (2017) and The Fallen (2018).

2. The Forgotten by Faye Kellerman. (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus # 13). Publication Date: August 2001.

Brief Summary: Rina and Peter’s shul is vandalized. The damage is extensive and the anti-Semitic messages and photos are appalling. While Rina works to clean up the mess, Peter investigates the crime and learns that his step-son, Jacob, has connections to the perpetrator. Comments: Reading this series is like visiting old friends. I love learning more about the familiar characters. There aren’t any surprises here, but I think fans of the series will enjoy this one.

 

Circle of Influence by Annette Dashofy

Publication Date:March 19th 2014 by Henery Press

Summary: Zoe Chambers was at the town council meeting on a snowy night because her EMS partner Earl enjoyed witnessing town politics.  The crowded space, filled to capacity with town residents, was in an uproar. The chairman, Jerry McBirney, was making various demands like an angry despot and his cronies supported him. But when McBirney demanded that grandmotherly Sylvia Bassi be arrested for the theft of an old computer, the townspeople were appalled. Zoe’s friend, police chief Pete Adams, stepped in to try to settle the issue. Sylvia was the the police department’s secretary.Circle of Influence

Sylvia’s son, Ted, her daughter-in-law, Rose and her teenaged grandchildren Logan and Allison, all witnessed McBirney’s tirade against Mrs. Bassi. Zoe did what she could for Sylvia, too, as Rose was her best friend. Pete wondered why McBirney was in such an uproar over a computer that had been abandoned for a long time.

Shortly after this incident, Ted Bassi was found murdered in Jerry McBirney’s car. Initial evidence pointed to McBirney as the killer, but as Pete and Zoe dug deeper, the conclusions became murkier. Another body is soon found and another member of the Bassi family disappears. Someone is determined to see that Zoe doesn’t discover the truth.

Comments:  I discovered Circle of Influence on a list of finalists for the Agatha Award for First Novel.  When I started reading it, I expected a high-end cozy–in part because of the cover art. I was pleasantly surprised that there was much more to it. Although some of the characters were too predictable, not all were, and the book was well plotted. I look forward to reading more in the Zoe Chambers series.

Recommended for general mystery readers.