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Maggody and the Moonbeams (Arly Hanks Mysteries) Hardcover – July 31, 2001


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Product Details

  • Series: Arly Hanks Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (July 31, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743202295
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743202299
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #526,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The ever-inventive Hess proves that a long-running series doesn't have to be stale in this latest outing for Arly Hanks, chief of police of Maggody, Ark., population 759. Arly is stuck chaperoning the church youth group on a trip to Camp Pearly Gates to help renovate the site. Accompanied by Mrs. Jim Bob, the ever-slimy Brother Verber and the high school shop teacher, Larry Joe Lambertino, Arly thinks her biggest challenge will be keeping the girls and the boys in separate cabins. There's the pesky problem of Duluth Buchanon's missing wife, Norella, but it's not until one of the girls stumbles over a dead body that Arly really starts to worry. The dead woman is one of the "moonbeams," a member of an all-female sect located near the campgrounds. With their white choir robes and shaved heads, they are sometimes mistaken for aliens, and their reluctance to cooperate with the ensuing murder investigation drives Arly nearly to distraction. (The "moonbeams" provide the author a chance to satirize not only cults and the way they prey upon the needy but also the ways in which women are victimized in our culture.) Hess makes effective use of her inimitable mix of Southern satire and smoothly paced plotting as Arly juggles horny teenagers, the ever-officious Mrs. Jim Bob and a prime suspect who keeps breaking out of jail. There may not be too many surprises, but Hess makes sure there are plenty of laughs from first page to last. (Aug. 7)Hess has won Agatha and Macavity awards and is also the author of the Claire Malloy series.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

What else could possibly happen to Arly Hanks, chief of police in Maggody, Arkansas? She's dealt with moonshiners, mentally embarrassed members of the prolific Buchanon clan, porno filmmakers, the prize pig Marjorie, bad-tempered ostriches, and legions of other, equally loony characters. But there's always more, as Hess proves yet again with another hilarious installment in this unequaled series. Arly, to her extreme horror, gets railroaded by Mrs. Jim Bob Buchanon into acting as chaperone for a church youth group at Camp Pearly Gates in nearby Dunkicker. Unbeknownst to all, the camp is also the home of a weird commune, the Daughters of the Moon, which is made up of a group of women (known locally as "Beamers") who sport shaved heads, magenta lipstick, and white robes. The typical Maggody madness and mayhem begins when one of the campers stumbles over the body of a Beamer whose head has been pulverized. Arly has a nice clutch of suspects but is hindered in her investigation by a dim-witted local deputy, the hormone-rampant teenage campers, the extremely tight-lipped Beamers, and, of course, her own mother, Rubella Belinda, on hand to cook for the campers. And then there's the handsome fisherman camped out nearby to whom Arly feels an immediate attraction. All in all, this is one of the best in the series, and that's saying a great deal. Stuart Miller
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Oh dear, this seems so personal. I was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas, luckily a blue dot in a red state. Did the normal kid stuff, avoided the long arm of the law. I earned a BA in art from the U of A, and a MS in early childhood development from Long Island University. I was teaching art in a preschool (pretty clever combination of the degrees, right?) when a friend suggested I write a romance novel. I wrote ten unpublishable ones before I realized I needed a splash of blood and a slather of humor in my prose and turned to mysteries. The Claire Malloy series came first, followed by the Maggody series. A third series, the Theo Bloomer mysteries, sputtered out after two novels, alas (it was going to be my "travel" series, requiring me to take tax-deductible business trips to do the research).

Now I live in Austin, Texas (also a blue dot, but a bigger one), a ten-minute drive from my absolutely adorable twin grandchildren Jack and Annabelle, soon to be three years old. Please don't ask me if they're identical. Their gracious mother frequently allows me to drop whatever I'm doing and dash over to babysit. And I do.

I'm currently working on my forty-fifth (or so) mystery, a Claire Malloy based on my brief experience in the jury pool. When I'm not babysitting, that is.

Customer Reviews

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert Edler on September 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Every time I take a fictional visit to the rural Arkansas town of Maggody (population 775 who all seem to be Buchanons of some sort or other with yet another one on the way), I always look at the publisher's line on the bottom of the title page ... Simon & Schuster with its list of offices in New York, London, Toronto, Sydney and Singapore. It completely mystifies me trying to imagine what readers in Singapore think about the criminal justice system in Maggody.
Anyway, this trip into the world of high crime and comedy starts with Ruby Bee Hanks burning up the kitchen of Ruby Bee's Bar and Grill. Add Duluth Buchanon's wife running off with his children and Raz Buchanon searching for a live-in companion for his pig Marjorie. And last, but not least, Arly getting shanghaied into being a chaperone to a church group of ten out of control teens (Billy Dick, Big Mac, Darla Jean et al), who are supposed to spend a week rebuilding Camp Pearly Gates under the unfortunate guidance of Mrs. Jim Bob Buchanon (the mayor's wife) and Brother Verber (the town's preacher).
Once at Camp Pearly gates, everyone one starts seeing what they think are angels, ghosts and/or aliens, and Darla Jean trips over a dead body in the woods on a dark and stormy afternoon.
If you thought the folks in Maggody were whacko, wait until you meet the people who live around Camp Pearly Gates. As always, Joan Hess delivers up a funny and enjoyable read. (Even if I can't keep track of all the Buchanons!)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on December 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Maggody, Arkansas (population 755) Police Chief, Arly Hanks, thought she'd dealt with some really tough cases in the past, but isn't sure she's prepared to handle this latest assignment. It seems, she's been "volunteered" to help chaperone the church youth group during their week of spring break. They're off to Camp Pearly Gates, in nearby Dunkicker, to rebuild the bleachers and fishing dock. If that isn't bad enough, the formidable and always officious wife of the mayor, Mrs Jim Bob, and the ever-creepy preacher, Brother Verber, will be going along too. But before the kids can even get settled in, a youth grouper stumbles over the body of a dead woman, a member of the "Moonbeam" cult whose followers dress in white choir robes, shave their heads, wear magenta lipstick, and are often mistaken for space aliens. As murder and mayhem ensues, Arly is pressed into service by the County Sheriff's Department to investigate the murder, and find out what's really going on in Dunkicker..... Joan Hess is back with another rip roarin', good time romp through Maggody. This is a light mystery that has it all...a well paced plot, full of vivid and hilarious scenes, smart, crisp writing, and witty and irreverent dialogue, complete with down-home, southern colloquialisms that will have you laughing out loud and shaking your head. But it's Ms Hess' wacky and quirky cast of original characters that really makes this novel stand out, and once you've been introduced to Maggody's finest, you'll be hooked for sure. So put up your feet and get comfortable, because once you begin reading, you won't be able to put this book down until you've finish the last satisfying page. Maggody And The Moonbeams is the latest in a terrific series that just gets better and better with each book. If you're new to Arly Hanks and company, start at the beginning with Malice in Maggody, and read them all. If you're already a fan, this installment doesn't disappoint.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dawn Dowdle VINE VOICE on July 16, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I loved this book so much I read it in one day! The many characters in Maggody are just that characters. It is a small town in Arkansas where Arly Hanks is the Police Chief. She has her hands full in this book as she is roped into being a chaperone for the church youth group. They are going to Camp Pearly Gates to do some volunteer work to built bleachers. Mrs. Jim Bob Buchanon, the mayor's wife, and Brother Verber, the local preacher, would make it interesting enough, but then she also has the high school shop teacher and ten teens to keep in line.
When the body of a white-robed woman turns up on the campgrounds, life gets even more complicated for Arly. Then there's the man she found fishing on the campgrounds. Not to mention all the reported sightings of ghosts. Once her mother Ruby Bee and her best friend Estelle show up, things get even more interesting.
Ruby Bee runs Ruby Bee's Bar & Grill. Due to a recent fire in the kitchen, she is out of business for a couple weeks. So she brings all her food up to the camp to feed the kids. They are happy because the menus that Mrs. Jim Bob had prepared were nutritional but not what the kids would want to eat!
As Arly begins investigating the apparent murder, she uncovers a community of women and children living on the campgrounds but that has a lot of mystery as to who they are and where they came from.
All the different characters plays such an important role in this book. It is told from multiple points of view, which at first I found difficult to follow. Once I got to know the various characters, I found that this story couldn't be told from one point of view. It is very well written!
I highly recommend this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on July 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Maggody, Arkansas Chief of Police Arly Hanks feels that her current task is probably the worst assignment of her career. She, accompanied by the mayor's self-important wife Mrs. Jim Bob, despicable Preacher Brother Verber, and shop teacher Larry Joe Lambertino are chaperoning teens at the Camp Pearly Gates. The teens are a tough enough crowd, but her companions make for a long weekend.
All that becomes moot when one of the kids finds a corpse of a woman. The victim turns out to be a member of the Moonbeam sect, a bunch of space cadets who refuse to cooperate with Arly on the investigation. To make matters even more pressing, a local person is missing and though probably safe could be a second victim. Then there is the usual demands of her position involving pigs, family members, and a suspect who seems to spend more time out of jail than in a cell.
The latest tale in the long running Maggody series, MAGGODY AND THE MOONBEAMS, retains its freshness, something not usually seen by book fourteen. The story line is light, but quite amusing as readers watch beleaguered but competent Arly deal with a crowd of misfits. In some ways this tale satirizes its own series and other regional who-done-its, but does so in a kind reverent manner as Joan Hess provide her audience with a fun to read tale in which the laughs keep on coming.

Harriet Klausner
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