Saturday, March 9, 2013

Book Review: Evan Only Knows by Rhys Bowen (Constable Evan Evans #7)


Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: It's still Evan
Cons: Missing much of the charm
The Bottom Line:
Something different
But it doesn't work as well
Blip in fun series




Darker and Slower Than Normal

The six previous books in the Constable Evan Evans series have been light, fun affairs. Sure, there's been a murder or two, but they've always been in the best cozy tradition. Furthermore, the series has introduced me to Wales, a country I had only heard of before. Now, I long to visit. So when I sat down to read Evan Only Knows, I was expecting more of the same. Unfortunately, I found this one not quite up to par.

When foot and mouth disease makes its way to Wales, Constable Evans finds himself caught between his job and his friends in the village of Llanfair where he is the local law. When his boss offers him time off, he and his fiance Bronwen decide to go meet each other's family.

They've hardly arrived at Mrs. Evans in Swansea before they get the news. The young man who killed Evan's father years ago has just been arrested for another murder. Called into the hearing to keep him in jail without bail, Evan makes a startling discovery - he thinks the kid is innocent this time. Now he must sneak around behind the backs of the police and his mother to find the real killer. But will he alienate all those he loves and put his career in jeopardy as a result?

The series takes a turn toward darker stories with this book. While there's some chilling stuff in future installments, this one is the darkest and grittiest. It starts with the slaughter of all the sheep in Llanfair and continues on through the details of the mystery. I was expecting a light escape from reality, but in this book reality was more the rule.

Also, the plot was weak. Because we need time to set up the problems in the village, the real story doesn't start until a third of the way into the book. Once it got going, I was hooked and surprised by a couple twists. I did figure things out about 80 pages before the end, however, which was a disappointment.

The majority of the book is set outside of Llanfair, which has been home based up to this point. The colorful locals we've come to love are really only featured in the first third of the book. However, this book does introduce us to some great new characters. This is the first we've seen of Evan's mother, and she is annoying but lovable. Her scenes usually brought some much needed comic relief to the story. Just as interesting were Bronwen's parents. They only make a couple appearances, but they are memorable. The best part of the book is the added page time Bronwen gets. She's usually in the background but plays a much more active part of this book, something I really enjoyed.

Evan Only Knows has some great moments and fans of the series will certainly enjoy it. But if you're new to this great series, don't start here and don't judge the entire series by this book.

Instead, go back and start the Constable Evan Evans Mysteries in order.

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