Friday, March 8, 2013

Book Review: Evans Above by Rhys Bowen (Constable Evan Evans #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great plot and charming characters...
Cons: ...who can be a bit two dimensional at times.
The Bottom Line:
Trip to scenic Wales
Interrupted by murder
What a place to die

An Evanly Good Debut

You know, I almost didn't read this book. Even though it came highly recommended by a friend who knew my tastes, I didn't want to start a new series right then. But I gave in and bought Evans Above, the first in the series. And I never looked back.

Constable Evan Evans is enjoying his quiet job in the small Welsh village of Llanfair at the base of Mount Snowden. The only things that occupy his time are avoiding attempts to set him up with eligible women like Betsy the barmaid and answering the occasional call from Mrs. Powell-Jones about trespassers in her garden.

But one day, two bodies are found on Mount Snowden. Both look like hiking accidents, but Evan is convinced that something strange is going on. Poking around, he finds a connection between the two men. But why were they lured to their death? Is there really a mad man on the loose on his beloved mountains?

So what is it about this book I found so appealing? Let's start with the characters. They are absolutely charming. We spend plenty of time in the village and these characters are delightful. There's loud mouthed Evans the Meat (the butcher) who gets offended easily. And we can't leave out Evans the Post who reads the mail before he delivers it. Our hero, Evans the Law as he's called in the village, is smart and capable without being overbearing. He's extremely shy around women and watching him dodge Betsy's advances and his landlady's attempts to set him up are funny as well. Some of these characters can be slightly two dimensional at times, but I enjoyed them so much it really didn't matter.

But don't go dismissing this as a poor mystery. The story starts out strong and never falters. Every few pages, there's a new morsel of information that kept me glued to the page. About half way through, I thought I knew who done it, but I turned out to be dead wrong. Yet the villain's identity made perfect sense.

The author, Rhys Bowen, had written children's books before switching to mysteries with this book. Her writing experience shows. This may be a debut, but the writing is solid, sure, and polished. There is a subtle humor to the narration that kept me smiling throughout.

Combine these three, and you'll see why I was hooked the entire time I read the book. I've since apologized to my friend for not believing her and gone on to read everything else Rhys Bowen has written.

If you enjoy cozy mysteries, don't make the same mistake I almost did. Get Evans Above and fall in love with a wonderful series.

And once you've fallen in love, you'll want to read the rest of the Constable Evan Evans Mysteries in order.

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