Saturday, March 9, 2013

Book Review: Evans Gate by Rhys Bowen (Constable Evan Evans #8)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Engaging mystery with some serious undertones
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
A bit serious
But better than previous
Another fun romp

Two Cases Keep Evan Busy

When we first met Evan Evans, he was the local constable in the small Welsh village of Llanfair. Now, in book eight in the series, he's finally been promoted to the plain clothes detective division. That means with Evan's Gate, his cases can begin to include people and events not located in Llanfair.

For example, when a young girl goes missing from Porthmadog, Evan is among the police called in to search for her. The girl's mother is quick to blame her former husband, who might be planning to return to his native Russia. If he did kidnap her, the police will need to find the girl before he leaves the country. To further complicate matters, the girl has had a recent heart transplant and needs special medicine to maintain her health. This just increases the pressure to solve the case fast.

Meanwhile, Evan is restoring a cottage in Llanfair to move into after he and his fiance Bronwen get married. While digging a trench near their soon to be home, he finds the skeleton of another girl. Evan quickly guesses it was a girl he knew who disappeared 25 years ago. Are the two cases connected?

I know I am a stickler for reading a series in order, but this book is a good reason why I do it. The main mystery takes place away from Llanfair, which has been the setting for the previous entries in the series. Since it is still home base, we get some fun scenes with the characters we've come to love from the previous books. However, most of those interactions won't mean as much to you if you don't already know who the characters are. I, on the other hand, loved them.

And those scenes are welcome comic relief because this cozy mystery series has grown darker. While still light on the objectionable content, these two mysteries are very serious. At the heart of the modern day story is a custody battle between parents. And the other mystery isn't much lighter since Evan was friends with the dead girl. There is stuff to think about here even after the book is finished.

But that never gets in the way of the story. As with all of Rhys Bowen's books, the pace is quick. I did figure out the solution before Evan, but that was based on some lucky guesses on my part.

And the characters are still sharp. Over the course of the series, we've gotten to know and love the main characters, and it's always a pleasure to spend time with them. The new characters in this book are well drawn and an equal part sympathetic and suspicious.

As usual, the writing is top notch. Everything is deftly balanced and the writing a breeze to read. I flew through the book.

While it may be slightly darker than earlier volumes, that doesn't mean it's a bad book at all. I enjoyed every minute of Evan's Gate. As always, this is a highly recommended series.

And you'll definitely want to read the Constable Evan Evans Mysteries in order.

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