Friday, March 8, 2013

Book Review: Evanly Choirs by Rhys Bowen (Constable Evan Evans #3)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun characters and great mystery
Cons: A tad slow in the beginning
The Bottom Line:
A bit slow to start
But filled with usual charm
Once it gets going

Murder is Never Harmonious

Evanly Choirs is the third book in the Constable Evan Evans series. The books take place in a modern Welsh village where Evans serves as the local law. Despite the fact that it is a small village, plenty of murder and mayhem seem to happen there. Even though Evan isn't an inspector, he seems to figure them out. Along the way, we get to meet the charming residence of Llanfair.

Evan has been convinced to add his voice to the town men's chorus for the upcoming cultural festival. Llanfair has struggled for years to win, but this year, they have a secret weapon. World famous tenor Ifor Llewelyn is back in his boyhood home to rest and agrees to add his voice to the choir.

Ifor isn't a nice person, however. He has loud nightly arguments with his wife. And he delights on pick on the choir's conductor, an old friend. So when he disappears the night before the competition, Evan is worried. Investigating, he finds Ifor dead. Now the only question is, which of his many enemies finally get fed up enough to kill him?

For the third book, author Rhys Bowen hasn't strayed far from the format of the first two. And that's a good thing. The story starts a little slowly, but it picks up speed as the story progresses and the solution caught me completely off guard.

To help flesh out village life, there are several sub-plots. Evan's personal life heats up as Betsy the Bar Maid makes her move while Evan tries to get the nerve to ask school teacher Bronwen out. And the two ministers of the competing chapels continue to feud. These story lines never get in the way of the main story. They add a richness to the book, however, by allowing us a glimpse into village life. If the book were just about the murder, I wouldn't love it like I do. But the murder is an excuse to spend time with these people.

Because the characters are wonderful. There are lots of series regulars here. Most don't do more then cameo most of the time, but they are equally charming. Evan is the most developed character, obviously, and his sharp mind and humble attitude are very appealing. The suspects are equally good. In fact, they are so well developed it makes it hard to tell just who the killer is.

And we can't leave out the writing. You can't read this book slowly even if you try. The writing flows so well the pages just fly by. I tried to savor this one, but was finished all too soon.

This series is a modern cozy in the spirit of Agatha Christie or Dorothy L. Sayers. You'll get the most out of the series by starting from the beginning so you can watch the characters grow.  You'll be breezing through Evanly Choirs before you know it.


  1. I am fond of cozy mysteries and would much rather read a gentler story than the kind of graphic description of violence and the consequence of violence in much contemporary crime. This is a series I will look out for, the setting sounds great.
    Very impressed with your next review Cana Rising, by the way, it is refreshing to read a quality honest review.

    1. Yes, I don't think you need the graphic violence (or language or sex) that is in so many mysteries, so I stick to lots of cozies. And if you aren't familiar with Rhys Bowen, you've got to check her books out. All of her series are great.

      And thank you for your compliment on the Cana Rising review. I strive to be honest with all my reviews, and especially with my neutral or negative reviews. While it's fun to just trash something, someone did write it, so I like to lay out reasons why it wasn't awesome.