Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $4.72 shipping
+ Free Shipping
English Lessons (Mad Dog & Englishman Series) Hardcover – July 5, 2011
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"The book's wry tone doesn't hide the author's contempt for irresponsible leaders and the yahoos who mindlessly follow them. Hayes cares about the English family with their enduring sanity and resilience, and so will readers." —Publishers Weekly
"In this always entertaining series, Hayes never fails to mix action and humor in an engaging manner." —Booklist
"Full of outrageous humor and a plot that will leave even the most jaded readers demanding more, Hayes's latest gives Janet Evanovich a run for the wackiest characters and most bizarre plots in crime fiction." --Library Journal, starred review of Server Down
"This well-crafted story told with humor will leave readers waiting for further adventures of Mad Dog, Englishman, and the inhabitants of Buffalo Springs." --Booklist of Mad Dog & Englishman
"This is the best madcap cozy to hit the genre since Joan Hess’ Maggody series debuted more than 15 years ago." --Booklist, starred review of Plains Crazy
About the Author
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
While most people can easily relate to Englishman as the reasonable, sensible, responsiible lawman that he is, Mad Dog introduces another dimension. Perhaps it's because our own slight Maori ancestry has always been such an important part of our lives that I can see a bit of myself in him. Perhaps it's his unashamed confidence in the mystical. Whatever. They're darned good stories.
Given the lighthearted tone of this mix-up, it's clear that J.M. Hayes wrote this novel with his tongue pressed forcefully into his cheek. In fact, Hayes couldn't resist the puns to which an unattached hand lends itself. If that doesn't provide enough humor for one mystery novel, Heather's dad, the sheriff of Benteen County, Kansas, begins Christmas Day by trying to figure out who urinated a message into the snow near a crèche displayed on a resident's lawn, and later confronts an informal militia that tries to occupy the courthouse without missing Christmas dinner. Then there's Heather's love life -- she's trying to keep a date to meet her boyfriend's parents for a Christmas gathering but dead bodies keep getting in the way -- and the fact that Mad Dog is a shaman with a spiritual connection to a wolf that's smarter than Lassie.
The storyline involving Heather is essentially a spoof of a thriller while the one involving her father is closer to a farcical send-up of the extremely gullible who believe every loony idea they hear on talk radio. Some of the humor has a political component -- Hayes pokes fun at conspiracy theorists who believe the Obama administration intends to confiscate their weapons -- that some readers might find less amusing than I did. Readers who want their fiction to remain divorced from politics (and those who think government agents in black helicopters are waiting to swoop down and collect their shotguns) might want to give this novel a pass.
Nearly all the characters in English Lesson are likable. Heather's father is an older, limping version of Andy Griffith. The whackos and bad guys are too bumbling to dislike (except "the professional" who is, of course, a professional). Even Hayes' minor characters have engaging personalities, from Sheriff English's elderly office manager (who becomes vicious when she's playing online computer games) to the gruff doctor who points out that the militia members who insist they want to "save the country" are flying a secessionist flag.
Both storylines are a bit over-the-top by the novel's end but since they aren't meant to be taken seriously, I didn't mind. The novel is relatively short, the right length to prevent the joke from growing stale. English Lessons is the sixth novel in the Mad Dog & Englishman series but the first I've read. If they are all this goofy, I'll have to find the time to read more of them.
I think I was right on the first count, and I know I was right on the second. A stagnant Hayes book would be an oxymoron.
MDE Book Six, ENGLISH LESSONS, takes off at 100mph and accelerates from there.
Heather English, the daughter of the Benteen County Sheriff, was a teenager in the first book of the series, but now she's all grown up, living in Tucson, and a member of the local tribal police force. Her lack of seniority lands her Christmas-day duty, so it's she who finds the skin of Arizona's governor-elect tacked up on a wall out of town. As Heather starts trying to sort out this shocker, her uncle, Mad Dog, the sheriff's brother, who has also relocated to Tucson, receives a Christmas package, which turns out to be a human hand.
Meanwhile, back in Benteen County, Sheriff English is called by Don Crabtree, one of his constituents, to investigate an outrage: someone wrote his opinion of Crabtree's front-yard creche in yellow snow in front of the display. Crabtree is sure the culprits were the two Conrad boys who live across the street, and he's ready to serve up justice at gunpoint. The sheriff promises to investigate, but as a precaution, takes away Crabtree's home arsenal.
To summarize this plot would take pages, and deliver enough spoilers to render reading the book unnecessary, so let's just say that by the time the Tucson dust and Kansas snow settle, Sheriff English has had to deal with an armed insurrection by self-styled patriots, and Heather and Mad Dog have needed to cope with an insane but ultra-efficient assassin who's scattered enough of the right bodies around the city to set off a major drug war.
The author's multi-character point of view ramps up suspense in his complex, double plot. A reader could develop finger cramps from trying to turn pages faster and faster. Hayes' characters are eccentric, sometimes extremely off-center, but they always remain human; the quirks of his good guys are endearing, and the foibles of the bad guys engender at least a bit of sympathy.
Hayes' trademark tongue-in-cheek dark humor runs through the book. From beginning to end, you'll tell yourself you really shouldn't have laughed at that...but damn, it was funny.
The author's social and political views have always given substance to his stories, and the shift of locale to Arizona in SERVER DOWN seemed to have been fueled by local political developments, particularly the fixing of elections. In ENGLISH LESSONS, this social-political underpinning goes up at least a couple more notches, and lends tremendous tension and urgency to both the Kansas and the Arizona subplots. But Hayes respects his art: he never lets his anger drive his story out of control, and he stays well clear of the soapbox. No question, Hayes is angry - in his afterword, he writes, "I owe much to Arizona government...They have provided me with more material than I will ever have time to use." For that, we should be grateful, and I'm already looking forward to MDE, Book 7.