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.
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 MillerCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved