Saturday, March 9, 2013

Book Review: Evan and Elle by Rhys Bowen (Constable Evan Evans #4)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun and interesting characters, engaging plot
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
Arson and murder
Mix for a red hot story
That you won't put down

A Hot Time in the Old Village

By this, the fourth entry in the Constable Evan Evans series, the set up is fairly familiar. Evan and Elle finds our hero dealing with daily life in Llanfair, the small Welsh village were he is the only local police presence.

The latest excitement around town is the new French restaurant. Run by the beautiful widow Madame Yvette, at first it draws complaints from the locals. But her mix of high cuisine and Welsh classics soon win over the locals.

But trouble is not far behind. There have been a rash of arsons in the area lately, the target all property owned by foreigners. Madame Yvette's restaurant is the next target. Unfortunately, when the smoke clears a body is found in the rubble. Who is the victim? Is this related to the other arsons? And what secrets does Madame Yvette have in her past?

The village of Llanfair is familiar and inviting by now. Just seeing the names of the residence brings a smile to my face. I love spending time with them, and I love the way that author Rhys Bowen is able to bring them into the story without slowing down things at all. It's especially nice to see Evan's relationship with school teacher Bronwen advancing finally, even if Yvette does try to snag Evan over the course of this book. Some of these locals aren't that well developed in this book, but they have been in previous entries in the series. Readers who know them will appreciate their scenes, while those new to the series might be confused by their actions.

Naturally, the book has plenty of new suspects. The main ones are very well developed. Yvette speaks with a stereotypical French accent (although I imagine it's hard to write anything else on the page). They are all interesting enough to make me care about the outcome.

This is easily the best plot of the first four books. The arsons added another layer over just another murder. Evan even gets out of Llanfair in his investigation of the case. I had a general idea where the plot was going, but I missed many of the hows and whys. And several twists along the way kept me entertained.

Once again, the book is wonderfully written. The words flow off the page. I get so lost in the world that I forget I am even reading. The books are over all too quickly, leaving me anxious to read the next.

I know I often encourage reading a series in order, but this is another case where it helps. While you don't absolutely need the background to enjoy Evan and Elle, it helps bring the characters and setting to life. And you won't for a minute regret any time spent with Constable Evans the residence of Llanfair.

And if you are going to take my advice, here are the Constable Evan Evans Mysteries in order.

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