Saturday, March 9, 2013

Book Review: Evan Blessed by Rhys Bowen (Constable Evan Evans #9)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Characters that we love like friends.
Cons: Slow progress of plot in middle (which bugs characters, too)
The Bottom Line:
Slow in the middle
But overall fun visit
With familiar friends

We are Blessed with Another Great Book

Evan Blessed is the ninth in Rhys Bowen's Constable Evan Evans series. By this point in the series, Evan has become a detective for the local police, but still lives in Llanfair, a small Welsh village on Mt. Snowdon.

In only two weeks, Evan and Bronwen, the local schoolteacher, will be married. But the once simple affair has turned into a complicated production with all the trimmings once Bronwen's family gets involved. To make matters worse, it could lead to hurt feelings in the village since many of the locals are being overlooked for providing services. It only gets worse with Mrs. Evans, who still hasn't warmed up to Bronwen, shows up early.

But all that's minor compared to the missing girl. Her boyfriend first finds Evan and tells him that they got separated hiking on the mountain. Search parties can find no trace of her, and with the crowds from tourist season, no one seems to remember her from among the many other tourists. The discovery of an empty bunker near a trail adds to the intensity of their search. It looks like the kidnapper planned to strike and keep someone hostage for a long time. Evan, meanwhile, is getting messages from the maniac - musical clues that he needs to solve to solve the case. Why has he been singled out? What do the clues mean? Will they find the girl?

This book, like the last few in the series, is a little darker then the early books. Even so, it's just a shade darker, and the interactions with the residents of Llanfair and the plans for the wedding help keep it fun. The plot seems to get bogged down in the middle, and I was getting frustrated. Of course, the characters were frustrated as well, so I was in good company and it shows the strength of the plot. Then the final 100 pages hit and the plot really took off. It took all my will power not to keep reading past my lunch hour. I thought I had it solved early on, but was thrilled to see that there were some nice twists I hadn't expected. And I simply loved the ending.

By this point in the series, we know the main characters well. Just seeing mentions of Evan, Bronwen, Betsy the barmaid, Evans the Meat, Evans the Post, etc. bring a smile to my face. The locals just provide a bit of local color and don't play a huge factor in the overall story, but its wonderful to see them. Evan is his normal charming self. He is quite intelligent and unfailing polite. Naturally, this creates some additional conflict, especially when his mother shows up. And her scenes are a riot and do a great job of breaking the tension.

Rhys Bowen is an accomplished author. All this is handled with a deft hand that makes you forget you are even reading words on a page.

Evan Blessed does mention a few previous cases, so you might want to stay away until you've read the others in the series. Series fans will love this latest adventure with Evan and be left wanting more. I'm certainly ready for the next one.

And if you do like to read in order, here are the Constable Evan Evans Mysteries in order.

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