Friday, March 8, 2013

Book Review: Evan Help Us by Rhys Bowen (Constable Evan Evans #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun plot with lovable characters
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
Lovely characters
And a fast moving story
Pages will fly by

Evan Forbid You Miss This Mystery

Life is good in the little Welsh village of Llanfair. Constable Evan Evans finds being the local police presence relaxing since he has little to trouble him. His landlady, Mrs. Williams, fixes his meals for him. And his attraction to local school teacher Bronwen is returned. The biggest challenges he faces are discouraging the advances of Betsy the barmaid and settling the disputes between the two churches. Yes, there was that double murder a few months back (covered in the first book in the series), but that was the exception, not the rule.

Unfortunately, trouble is about to start up again.

Colonel Arbuthnot is not a resident, but he has spent time in Llanfair every summer for years, making his an honorary local. He has spent his entire life searching for Camelot, which he believes to be in Wales. He thinks he's finally found it, and it's just outside of town. Then the next morning, he's discovered face down in a creek.

The locals aren't deterred by his untimely death or the potential that he was wrong. Lead by Evans-the-Meat (the butcher, of course), they hold a town meeting to try to decide how to capitalize on this discovery to make their village famous.

It's at this meeting that Ted Morgan steps forward. He had moved away from the village years ago but has returned with a plan to build an amusement park in an abandoned slate mine just outside of town. That idea infuriates the quick tempered Evans-the-Meat, and the two have a heated argument. So naturally, Evans-the-Meat is the first suspect when Ted turns up murdered the next morning.

Constable Evans, however, is convinced that the two deaths are connected. But what is the connection?

This is a charming series, and the second entry is no exception. Because the events of the story center so much on the village, we really get to know the residents. And they are a fun lot. Between all the Evans (there are also Evans-the-Milk and Evans-the-Post), Mrs. Williams, Bronwen, and the crowd at the tavern, there are plenty to get to know. Yet I never once had a problem keeping everyone straight. These are real people it's easy to come to love.

And the plot is good, too. The story starts quickly and moves forward at a steady pace. I had a few minor pieces of the puzzle in place, but I didn't figure out the big picture until Evan put it all together at the end. There's also a romantic sub-plot with the new female resident in town, causing even more problems in the Evan/Bronwen/Betsy dynamic. Yet this sub-plot never slows down the main story and adds to the fun.

The writing is excellent. I hardly even notice it as I become engrossed in the story. The pages fairly fly by, and the book ends all too soon.

Llanfair is always a fun place to visit. If you haven't had the pleasure, be sure to correct that today with Evan Help Us or any of the other books in this fun series.

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