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1. Closely Akin to Murder (Claire
2. Busy Bodies (Claire Malloy Mystery)
3. Tickled to Death (Claire Malloy
4. A Holly Jolly Murder (Claire Malloy
5. The Merry Wives of Maggody: An
6. Mummy Dearest (Claire Malloy Mysteries,
7. A Conventional Corpse (Claire
8. Death by the Light of the Moon
9. The Murder at Murder at the Mimosa
10. Roll Over and Play Dead (Claire
11. O Little Town of Maggody: An Arly
12. Out on a Limb (Claire Malloy Mysteries,
13. Damsels in Distress (Claire Malloy
14. Miracles in Maggody: An Arly Hanks
15. Strangled Prose (Claire Malloy
16. Maggody in Manhattan: An Arly
17. Poisoned Pins: A Claire Malloy
18. The Goodbye Body: A Claire Malloy
19. The Maggody Militia (Arly Hanks
20. Malice in Maggody

1. Closely Akin to Murder (Claire Malloy Mysteries)
by Joan Hess
Mass Market Paperback: 272 Pages (2009-09-29)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$2.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312384637
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

At first it seems like a prank. How could Veronica Landonwood be the voice on the other end of the phone when she died three decades ago? But as Arkansas bookseller and amateur sleuth Claire Malloy is about to find out, her cousin “Ronnie” is very much alive—and in trouble. And could use Claire’s help…

Today, Ronnie is a renowned scientist living in Chicago. But when she was a teenager, she had a run-in with a famous Hollywood producer in Acapulco, Mexico. He attempted to sexually assault her—and she killed him. Having served time in prison, Ronnie finally put her this episode behind her…until now. Just when she has a real shot at the Nobel Prize, a ruthless blackmailer is threatening to expose the secrets of her past. Can Claire help to preserve Ronnie’s reputation and keep her out of harm’s way? That will depend on Claire’s investigation—and what really happened on the night of the murder so many years ago…

... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Joan Hess
Joan Hess has a way with words. Her sense of humor comes through and makes her books a delightful brain candy. Both of her series are worth reading. Delicious way to spendan afternoon.

5-0 out of 5 stars Refreshing change of scenery
This is probably my favorite of the Claire Malloy mysteries because here Joan Hess breaks away from the formula that most of the previous books have followed. Claire is away from the bookstore in Faberville (Acapulco no less) and the usual cast of characters/relationships there (although Caron is along and Peter checks in by phone).

The change of scenery and the unavailability to fall back completely on what has worked in the past seems to have inspired Hess to pen a better written mystery, while retaining all of the humorous touches that distinguish her earlier work. Unfortunatly, this book was a one-off experiment and later installments return Malloy to the predictable but enjoyable confines of Faberville. One only hopes that Hess will someday once again be daring and make another left turn that will breath new life into this fine series.

5-0 out of 5 stars Claire and Caron go south of the border, down Mexico way. .
Presumed-dead cousin Veronica calls Claire from Chicago to ask her to unmask the blackmailer who won't let her forget that she murdered a Hollywood producer thirty years ago.Never mind that she did the time for doing the crime--she's built a new life for herself and doesn't want this stain on her reputation.Off go Claire and Caron to Acapulco--but unlike Elvis, they don't have "fun" there.Unless you call getting arrested by the Mexican police (Claire) and kidnapped by some greasy bum (Caron) fun.As Caron would say, Claire simply Asks for Trouble everywhere from Mexico to a convent (!) in Phoenix to her cousin's elegant digs in Chicago. You'll find Claire joining the jet set, Caron's anguish over Yet Another Major Crisis involving Rhonda MacGuire, Farberville High's Queen Bee, and more delightful flirtation between Claire and handsome cop Peter Rosen, in Joan Hess' latest.Have fun. . ... Read more

2. Busy Bodies (Claire Malloy Mystery)
by Joan Hess
Mass Market Paperback: 304 Pages (2009-04-28)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$2.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312384629
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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Since his recent arrival, avant-garde artist Zeno Gorgias has been turning heads and attracting gawkers in the otherwise tame college town of Farberville Arkansas. Zeno’s “interactive” art—featuring an undressed woman lounging beside a coffin on his front yard—is neither welcome by the community nor punishable by law. But as local bookseller and amateur sleuth Claire Malloy is about to find out, sometimes there’s a dark side to one’s freedom of artistic expression…

Strange things keep happening to Zeno and his oeuvre. First, his estranged wife comes to town, demanding he be committed to a mental institution. Then Zeno’s house mysteriously goes up in flames. And if that’s not enough, a dead body is found inside of the infamous coffin. Now that Zeno has been arrested for murder, it’s up to Claire to figure out what on earth is going on in Farberville…while the real killer remains on the loose.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful as Always
I love Joan Hess!No matter if she is writing the Maggody series or the Claire Mailloy series, I enjoy how she creates characters we all know - or wish we knew in our daily lives.I think I have read all she has written now, and I look forward to many years of Claire Malloy and Maggody!

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite Claire Malloy mysteries
Reading Joan Hess is like visiting with an old friend, and BUSY BODIES is one of her best outings in the Claire Malloy series.Nick and Nora are a hoot, as is the very well-constructed and highly entertaining plot.I wish this title was in print because everyone should have their own copy!

5-0 out of 5 stars All is well--Claire Malloy is in town!l
Miss Emily and her basset hounds, Nick and Nora, have gotten Claire into trouble before (Roll Over and Play Dead and Dear Miss Demeanor) and are not totally innocent bystanders when it happens again.Claire, daughter Caron, and Caron's chum Inez comprise the trio which manages to run amuck on Willow Street--to the expressed displeasure of Lieutenant Peter Rosen.Peter, an employee of the local homicide division of the police department, is Claire's ardent lover and friend.In the past he has made many vehement objections to her forays into the areas of his expertise and, on occasion, has had her arrested to keep her from the fray.This time a famous painter, a nearly-naked neighbor, a writer, promoter, lawyer, two missionaries, and a soon-to-be-dead-wife all contrive to upset the tea party and give Peter ample reason to complain.If you, too, want to discover why the fire department arrives, what makes Miss Parchester say, "Could it be related in some way to the bears I saw in my backyard?", and who kills the second victim, you will have to read the latest and very funny Joan Hess mystery starring Claire Malloy--Busy Bodies. ... Read more

3. Tickled to Death (Claire Malloy Mysteries)
by Joan Hess
Mass Market Paperback: 336 Pages (2010-11-02)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$7.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312384645
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Murder is no laughing matter—especially when it comes to marriage. So before Luanne gets in too deep with her new flame, a dentist named Dick, she’d like her best friend to do a background check. Did Dick murder his two previous wives? That’s what Arkansas bookseller and amateur sleuth Claire Malloy intends to discover…

Everything Claire turns up on this would-be blue-beard keeps leading her down a slippery slope. The police are determined to prove Dick guilty of double homicide, but Claire’s not so sure. Something about his story just doesn’t add up. But if Dick didn’t do the deed, who did? The only thing Claire knows for sure is that Luanne won’t have a moment’s rest until she finds out…

... Read more

4. A Holly Jolly Murder (Claire Malloy Mysteries, No. 12)
by Joan Hess
Mass Market Paperback: 288 Pages (2006-10-31)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$2.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312349165
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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With Farberville's college on holiday break, Claire Malloy's bookstore is quiet . . . deadly quiet. Breaking the silence is a little old lady looking for volumes on pagan rituals, applied magick, and Celtic mysticism.  Claire is intrigued andÂ--miffed that her lover, Farberville police Lieutenant Peter Rosen, says she's in a rutÂ--happily accepts an invitation to welcome the winter solstice at dawn.
Showing up at the Sacred Grove, Claire expects wild chanting or even nude dancing.   Instead she ends up sitting on a stump watching the Arch Druid clean her bifocals. Then winter arrives and so does a dead man.  Someone has shot the wealthy benefactor of Farberville's neo-pagans. Now Claire is mixing some snooping with her Christmas shopping.  But instead of wrapping up the case, she finds out Â'tis the season for ho- ho- homicide . . .  and she may be the next victim.
Amazon.com Review
A few days before Christmas, bookseller Claire Malloy determines that shehas heard one too many comments about being set in her ways.To quiet suchcomplaints she accepts an invitation from an eccentric customer to a NewAge celebration of the winter solstice. An early morning adventure withMalthea, Arch Druid of the Sacred Grove of Keltria, should have been enoughto prove that Claire has not yet settled into middle-aged complacency. Butthe morning's activities provide more than she bargained for once one ofMalthea's followers turns up dead. Our heroine sets out to determinewhether her new acquaintances are murderous Satanists or only very odd, and, in the process, to discover just who shot whom.

Holly Jolly Murder is Joan Hess's 12th mystery featuring BookDepot proprietor and attractive widow Malloy as an inadvertent sleuth.Better known are Hess's Maggody books, which richly parody livin', dyin',and prayin' in the backwoods of Arkansas. The Malloy series is similarlywitty, but its humor is a bit more subtle and less predictable than that ofits country cousin. The college town that Malloy inhabits allows foroccasional digs at academia as well as a broader range of quirky andseemingly less contrived characters--a Druid priestess being the obviousexample. In Holly Jolly Murder, Hess has set the stage for Claire tocome into her own as an accidental detective (lover-policeman Peter isconveniently away for the holidays) with suitably festive results. --K. Crouch ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

3-0 out of 5 stars Not Hess' best
I usually like the Claire Malloy stories, but this one just didn't hit the mark for me.The characters, that are unique to this book, became boring about a fourth of the way through. I have a rule about finishing a book once I've started it, but this one tempted me to break that rule.Christmas has very little to do with the story.All together a disappointing book

5-0 out of 5 stars Hess is fun as always
I've worked my way through almost all of Hess's books, but somehow had overlooked this earlier one. It's a fun mystery, as all of her books are, and it was fun to see Caron tackle a problem on her own.

4-0 out of 5 stars made me laugh a lot
This was the first Claire Malloy Mystery i have ever read and based on it, i just ordered 8 more. i loved the humor in here.i am a 50 year old woman and for me, at least, there were some pages that had me literally laughing so hard that i had tears in my eyes. i am looking forward to passing each of them on to my best friend after i read them to share the fun with her.

After all the serious mysteries i regularly read, it was great to read something that was just plain fun.

3-0 out of 5 stars Very Verbal-Little Plot
If you like the mysteries which play on words then this one is for you.The story line wasn't anywhere nearly as complex as the language.Many puns, word plays and an investigator that talks to herselfif no one else is around because that is how important the word play is in this book.If you prefer more crime and detection you will not like this one.

2-0 out of 5 stars The Subplot Was Better Than the Plot
A pretty awful book altogether.I love the Claire Malloy series, but this novel totally missed.I never could figure out why Claire cared for the fates of those appalling secondary characters, each one more loathsome thanthe next, including a bunch of tiresome Druids (a plot conventionindicative of a desperate mystery author).Her daughter's misadventurewith the mall Santa Claus was much more interesting. ... Read more

5. The Merry Wives of Maggody: An Arly Hanks Mystery (Arly Hanks Mysteries)
by Joan Hess
Hardcover: 352 Pages (2010-01-19)
list price: US$24.99 -- used & new: US$5.64
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312363613
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Maggody, Arkansas (pop. 755) is perceived of as a two-bit hick town, filled with one-bit hicks. But Mrs. Jim Bob Buchanan seeks to change that perception with her latest scheme—a charity golf tournament. This presents a bit of a challenge, since no one in Maggody plays golf and there is no course. But when the prize for the first hole-in-one is announced—a top of the line bass boat—nearly everyone in town develops a new-found interest in the sport. The town goes golf crazy, trying to learn the sport in time to win the bass boat, with limited success and maximum domestic disorder. Sheriff Arly Hanks, who has better things to worry about, just wishes it would all go away.

When a small-town golf instructor wins the bass boat on the first day of the tournament, it looks like all the excitement is over. But the next morning, when he’s found dead, sitting in the parking lot in the front seat of the bass boat, the prize is once again up for grabs and nearly everyone in town is a murder suspect.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars I love all things Joan Hess
I love this series as well as the Claire Malloy series.I favor Arly's character more though. She is much more subtle in her investigations, so the reader doesn't really know where she's going until it all unfolds in the end.Claire, on the other hand, lets the reader know exactly what she's thinking step by step (and usually wrong) until the end when she puts it together. Both series improved with each book.The stories are compelling and there is humor interjected throughout.I cannot wait until the next Maggody book comes out.

1-0 out of 5 stars Major disappointment
I have read all the previous books in this series and loved the quirky sense of humor exhibited in the writing, the finely-crafted characters and the wacky goings on of the town and its people.This particular book is very, very dull in comparison to the previous ones.I like that Ms. Hess is not one of those writers who cranks out several books a year "just because", but this one should have never made it to print without some major changes.To me one of the expectations going into any story about Maggody is that Estelle and Ruby Bee will do their own amateur sleuthing, the miscellaneous wacky characters will be involved in a variety of personal crisis, and it will all work out in the end.I am nearly finished with this book and have not found any of it particularly amusing or interesting.Please don't tell me this charming series, as we have come to know and love it, is over.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another great tale
Another great tale with characters I've grown to know, places I can see in my mind and funny situations that make this fun to read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Save the poor 'golf widows'
Police Chief Arly Hanks is struggling with her unplanned pregnancy. The last thing she needs is a golf tournament. But the wives of Maggody, concerned for the 'golf widows' they've read about, have decided Maggody needs a golf tournament. With a $40,000 bass boat being the prize for anyone who sinks a hole in one, and Maggody's gold course being a plowed-up marijuanna field, just about everyone in Maggody, and plenty from outside the town, is interested.

Hanks plans to simply wait out the tournament with its host of weird and not-so-wonderful characters but those plans come up short when someone actually manages a hole in one--and is promptly beaten to death inside the prize boat. According to contest rules, the winner must be present, and alive, to win, which means the tournament goes on and just about everyone has a motive.

Author Joan Hess keeps the humor cranked to maximum, with the assortment of Buchanon relatives (including Popeep, Mrs. Jim Bob and the rest.

Hess gives us plenty of suspects and red herrings, a mostly-sympathetic character in Arly Hanks, and humor that fires on all barrels, mostly hitting but with a few misses. I thought the mystery a little bit easy, and there were times when Hess's poking fun at the Arkansas bumpkins crossed the line from funny to mean-spirited. Still, the writing was highly approachable, the characters memorable, and the laugh-out-loud moments distinctly outweighing the groaners (I mean, a golf tournament to benefit 'golf widows.' That's got to generate a smile.)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Benefit for Golf Widows sets the tone
The Maggody books have all been enjoyable but this one - to me - is the best yet.The Buchanans are here but more as side characters.They had a tendency to be a little wearing after a while.

The focus is on Maggody's first ever golf tournament.Quite a neat trick as they don't have a golf course (does a swamp count?) and no one knows how to play.Mrs. Jim Bob is in charge and the competition is fierce for the grand prize - a $40,000 bass boat.

Much care is given to the development of the competitors - both from Maggody and from out of town.There are 2 murders and plenty of suspects.

The mystery is very good but I especially enjoyed seeing some of the characters in a new light.Arly and Ruby Bee's relationship takes a new turn.I even found myself caring for Mrs. Jim Bob and that was completely unexpected.

The next book in this series should be especially interesting with all the new plot twists which occurred in this one. ... Read more

6. Mummy Dearest (Claire Malloy Mysteries, No. 17)
by Joan Hess
Hardcover: 320 Pages (2008-04-15)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$4.30
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B002XULXG0
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

After a somewhat long and, at times, strange courtship, Claire Malloy -- a single, widowed mother of a teenage daughter and a bookseller in Farberville, Arkansas - has finally said 'I do' to her swain, Lt. Peter Rosen of the Farberville Police Department. Now they are on their honeymoon in Luxor, Egypt. Well, Claire is on her honeymoon - accompanied by Caron, her teenaged daughter, and Inez, Caron's best friend and frequent partner in adventure. Peter is mostly away on various mysterious consultations with equally mysterious government agencies is his new, completely undiscussed, role in law enforcement. 


Staying at the glamorous Winter Palace in Luxor, Claire is intent on a quiet, uneventful honeymoon involving shopping, tourist sites, and, when it can’t avoided, drinks with the local British expatriate contingent. But despite her determined efforts to avoid any involvement in criminous events, the tenor of the trip quickly switches from bucolic to creepy.  First, Caron and Inez are chased through darkened deserted alleys by persons unknown. Then a blond college student of their recent acquaintance is kidnapped by two young men on horseback in a scene reminiscent of a Rudolf Valentino film. Something is clearly afoot in this tourist paradise, and now Claire will stop at nothing to find out what.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

2-0 out of 5 stars Weak
I've read all the other Claire Malloy mysteries and this is by far the weakest of the series.Other reviewers have noted that it seems the author no longer enjoys writing the characters in this series and I would have to agree. I didn't feel like any of the characters were charming or witty as they had been in the past.Everyone, including the protagonists, behaved rudely and strangely.

Another thing that bothered me while reading the book was that Claire and Caron have always been portrayed as lower to middle class, barely making ends meet, living in a small apartment, driving a beat up old car, and generally living without any luxury.You'd imagine that this formerly single mother and child who had never been able to travel would be in awe of the history and culture around them and thrilled to see ancient sites.They are on a first class trip to Egypt, no expense spared, and they don't seem to care.In fact they complain.A lot.

It was as if, inspired by her trip to Egypt with Elizabeth Peters (this is mentioned in an afterward) Hess felt compelled to do an homage and so crammed a story that wasn't very interesting or well-paced into her vacation diary.

4-0 out of 5 stars An excellent mystery.
Bookseller and amateur sleuth Claire Mallory and her boyfriend Police Lieutenant Peter Rosen are finally married.Within days of marrying, Peter heads to Egypt.He's working undercover for the Egyptian government in connection with a newly formed terrorist organization.Claire, her daughter Caron, and her friend Inez meet him in Luxor.

Claire knew she would be left behind whenever Peter was called to duty, but she was left alone more often than not.If it hadn't been for the group of Egyptologist/collectors staying at the hotel, she would have spent the time shopping and visiting the sites.When inconsistencies in their stories surfaced, Claire dialed back her suspicious nature determined not to get involved, but the bodies started piling up.And then there was the man with the scar.The girls swore he was following them.The kidnapping was the straw that broke the camel's back.Claire had to get to the bottom of it even if that meant alienating her husband and setting the record for the world's shortest marriage.

Mummy Dearest is a great story with a wonderful cast of characters.There is enough history woven into the story to make it relevant, but not enough to overwhelm it.It's not an easy balance to maintain.Joan Hess did it well.I thoroughly enjoyed the book from beginning to the end.

3-0 out of 5 stars Audio version
The book isn't bad, but man, the reader in the audio version is BAD at accents.Seriously awful.When you can't tell the difference between an Egyptian and a Scot, you know you need a new reader.Needless to say, the crappy accents make the story much more difficult to follow in the audio version.

4-0 out of 5 stars mummy dearest
The story and writting were good.The story went along at one pace then the end seemed kind of rushed at a different pace.

5-0 out of 5 stars What Fun!!
This was so much fun, it almost makes up for no Amelia Peabody book (written by Elizabeth Peters) this year. I got to visit Luxor again.

I enjoy all of Joan Hess's books and was so excited to finally get this one that I just opened it and started reading. By the time I was on page 50 it felt so familiar that I had to stop and investigate. I turned back to the front of the book and found that it was dedicated to Barbara Mertz also known as the Elizabeth Peters mentioned above. And in the endnotes you find that Joan Hess actually went to Luxor with Barbara Mertz/Miss Peters -- what a dream trip!

I really enjoyed the book but I kept expecting Amelia and Emerson (from the Peters' books) to suddenly appear at one of the cocktail get-togethers. They would have had to time-travel forward 80 years but it would have been great. (I think maybe a descendant was there.) The names and characters and settings were all so familiar and to have Claire, Peter, Caron and Inez there was twice as fun.

Peter and Claire are finally married, she gets involved with stuff she shouldn't, as usual. Bringing Inez and Caron along on the honeymoon was hilarious. I'm still not sure who two of the English women were (red herrings, I guess). But I did enjoy the book a lot.

It will be fun to see if Miss Hess stays with this storyline with Peter as CIA (or whatever) and lets Claire travel to solve more international mysteries or takes them back home to Arkansas and the bookstore.
-cba ... Read more

7. A Conventional Corpse (Claire Malloy Mysteries, No. 13)
by Joan Hess
Mass Market Paperback: 304 Pages (2001-08-13)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$1.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312977263
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Farberville, Arkansas, is playing host to its first-ever mystery convention with five major mystery writers-each representing a different subgenre of the mystery world-making the trek to the local college for "Murder Comes to Campus." Bookseller Claire Malloy is looking forward to meeting some of her favorite writers and, of course, selling books to the attendees. But her plans for a calm, profitable weekend are soon laid to waste when the organizer is hospitalized and Claire is dragooned into running the show. Finding herself in the midst of barely controlled chaos, Claire has to deal with five writers, each with a distinct set of idiosyncrasies and difficulties (including one who arrives with Wimple, her crime-solving cat, in tow). With Claire's own love-life woes with local police detective Peter Rosen added in, things have never been worse...until things get worse. One of the conference attendees dies in a car accident, Wimple the cat disappears from Claire's home and cannot be located, and Roxanne Small is nowhere to be found-making it evident that in Farberville the murder mystery is more than a literary genre.AUTHORBIO: JOAN HESS is a winner of the American Mystery Award and the author of twelve previous Claire Malloy books, including Dear Miss Demeanor and Strangled Prose, as well as the Maggody mystery series. A member of Sisters in Crime and a former president of the American Crime Writers League, she lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.Amazon.com Review
When Farberville, Arkansas, plays host to its first-ever mystery convention--Murder Comes to Campus--local bookseller Claire Malloy finds herself in the midst of barely controlled mayhem. Bad enough that she is surrounded by peevishly capricious authors; bad enough that Roxanne Small, renowned (and feared) mystery editor, arrives unexpectedly, to the disgruntlement of said authors. But add in the news that Claire's amour, police detective Peter Rosen, has decided to do a little propagating of the species--with his ex-wife--well, all things considered, Claire would rather be in Philadelphia. Or just about anywhere without temperamental authors, irritable teenage daughters who have mastered the art of Speaking in Capital Letters, and sudden death.

But when one of the convention attendees dies in a suspicious accident, and Roxanne Small turns up at the bottom of a cistern with a severe case of shattered skull, Claire decides that selling books to rabid fans takes second place to ferreting out the unlovely skeletons in the publishing world's closet. A Conventional Corpse finds Claire in typically acerbic form; Joan Hess is a master at presenting a decidedly cockeyed world in precise and amusing language. Claire's opinion of her glibly sarcastic daughter is typical: "Two years until I could pack her off to college, I reminded myself as I closed her door. Or perhaps I could surreptitiously sign her up for the Peace Corps and arrange an assignment to a country in which headhunting was still a popular sport. Or leave her in a basket at the door of a convent in a newly autonomized country such as Azerbaijan--sans passport."

This is the tone that has won Hess many fans, but every character, unfortunately, sounds exactly alike: detectives, authors, innkeepers, vagrants--they all speak in the same voice. The overall effect is one of limited imagination. In addition, the denouement will leave many readers perplexed, renouncing as it does the constraints of logic, motive, and probability. Claire Malloy fans, though, will more than likely be pleased enough with the return of their favorite bookseller to read in a forgiving frame of mind. --Kelly Flynn ... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

1-0 out of 5 stars What a disappointment!
I could hardly wait for the next Claire Malloy book. I'm just glad I didn't waste money on the hardcover. Instead of funny quips and jabs Claire is just plain annoying. Has Joan Hess run out of new things to say? I finished the book because I paid money for it but it was a difficult read, I'm sad to say. I always looked forward to her Arly Hanks and Claire Malloy series, but next time I'll check them out at the library so I don't dish out the cash.

4-0 out of 5 stars Cat, Kids and Authors
A new Claire Malloy mystery is a reason to celebrate. A Conventional Corpse is an excellent addition to the series. The backdrop of a convention attended a group of eccentric authors is perfect for murder. The characters are delightful and well written. The teenagers add spice. The frightfully spoiled cat was a hoot.

Joan Hess always entertains but I think her plot twists in this book were especially clever. Also her character's anger toward her on again off again boyfriend rang true. Although as an incurable romantic I wanted to see them get together. In fact it is my hope that one book will contain a wedding and another perhaps a honeymoon with murder of course.

I recommend this book to all the Claire Malloy fans.

2-0 out of 5 stars Paging Arly Hanks
I started reading the Claire Malloy mysteries because I am a huge fan of Joan Hess' Maggody, Ark. series.While never as good, the Malloy books were always a fun, quick read.Lately, however, the series seems to have taken a distinct turn for the worse.While the Maggody books continue to be ribald, wry and blissfully silly, the Malloy books have become muddled, badly written and stale (culminating in this negligible installment).It's interesting how the same writer can miss so consistently with some characters and hit the target so often with others.I've decided to skip Claire Malloy's future exploits and stick with Sherrif Arly Hanks and friends.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not as much fun as I'd hoped for.
I'm a big fan of this series, which features widowed bookstore owner Claire Malloy, and I have been eagerly awaiting this latest entry for some time. Although it was enjoyable to visit with these characters again, the laughs were fewer and farther between than I'm used to from this writer, and the mystery was quite a let-down.

The titular "convention" is a mystery convention with five major mystery writers arrived in Farberville from out of town. Claire, who hopes to make a small fortune in book sales during the convention, ends up in charge when the organizer is hospitalized. Between herding the errant authors from one place to the next while keeping track of her own teenage daughter, Claire hardly has time to rebuff the apologetic overtures of her estranged boyfriend, Lieutenant Peter Rosen. But convention chaos becomes the least of Claire's worries when a conference attendee dies under suspicious circumstances.

There's a lot of Hess's trademark charm in this book, including the characterization of the mystery authors, each a unique and interesting personality. Claire is a wonderful character, and her relationship with her daughter is fun and realistic.

Unfortunately, the plot just isn't strong enough. Hess goes to a great deal of trouble to depict the complex and frequently hostile relationships between the authors, even though these relationships have very little to do with the mystery. The resolution of the mystery is startlingly weak and poorly thought out. And the bizarre subplot involving Peter Rosen, which is presumably meant to be humorous, is so far out of character as to be contrived and distracting. Hess doesn't need to work this hard for laughs.

Despite the disappointing ending to this book, I hope I don't have to wait too long for the next Claire Malloy mystery.

3-0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
This book just didn't grab me. I finished it but the end was kind of anticlimatic. The thing that bothers me most is that the main characters never seems grow or change. Caron has been sixteen(and speaking in CAPITAL LETTERS) forever just as Claire has been Forty and in a going nowhere relationship with Peter Rosen. Enough already. This series needs a major overhaul! ... Read more

8. Death by the Light of the Moon (Claire Malloy Mysteries, No. 7)
by Joan Hess
Mass Market Paperback: 227 Pages (2003-09-15)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$2.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312991010
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Things that go bump in the Bayou...
For bookseller and amateur sleuth Claire Malloy getting a root canal beats going to a Malloy family reunion. But it is time her fifteen-year-old daughter Caron visits her deceased father's relatives.Now Claire and Caron have arrived at Malloy Manor, a run-down mansion in Louisiana's bayou country...where the mosquitoes are big enough to barbecue, the swamp is crawling with alligators, the butler looks like he stepped out of a teen slasher movie, and the wheelchair-bound matriarch, Miss Justicia, races around the grounds cackling like a loon.

It's the perfect setting-for a murder.Before a night has passed, Miss Justicia is sleeping with the fishes. The police call it a "tragic accident." Caron is all for calling a cab.But Claire wants to have a closer look at her "loving" relatives since she has a hunch leaving Malloy Manor isn't going to be all that easy...and neither is staying alive.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Dorothy Cannell
I always buy her books.Fun and without baggage like so many are these days.

4-0 out of 5 stars Claire Malloy at her best!
Part of the charm of the Claire Malloy mysteries comes from following the characters throughout the series.I suggest that if you are interested in this book, please start with Joan Hess's first book in this series entitled"Strangled Prose". Death by Light of the Moon explores a sideof Claire that we haven't ever got a glimpse of before--her in-laws!Themystery and clue development is especially strong in this novel and hercharacters are quirky and campy!If you enjoy a good mystery and somequick witted humor besides, this is a must read!

3-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but not spellbinding.
I found this book to be a nice light, entertaining read, but it was a little slow at the start.Things speed up nicely at the end, although some of the revelations are somewhat easy to guess. The characters areinteresting, however, they seem a little too cartoony at times. This was myfirst Joan Hess book, but I'd be willing to try another. If you're lookingfor a quick, fun read this book is a good choice. ... Read more

9. The Murder at Murder at the Mimosa Inn (Claire Malloy Mysteries, No. 2)
by Joan Hess
Mass Market Paperback: 192 Pages (1999-10-15)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$2.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312971788
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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When you make a game of murder, be careful who the players are...

Who could resist the mock-murder weekend at the charming Mimosa Inn-- certainly not bookstore owner and amateur sleuth Claire Malloy, who decides to bring her petulant daughter Caron along for some detecting. As the guests settle in for a weekend of sleuthing, dressed as their favorite literary detectives, many a Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot stand poised to solve a murder. But fiction becomes alarmingly real, as the mock-murder victim isn't just playing dead-- he's really been bashed to death. More determined than even to find the killer, Claire combs the grounds of the lovely inn for this most uninvited guest.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Joan Hess books
Absolutely love books written by Joan Hess.I haven't found one that wasn't terrific.I like the Claire Malloy Mysteries.

3-0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good Mystery
This mystery reminds me of the Agatha Christie novel, And Then There Were None.Guests come to the Mimosa Inn for a "mock" murder weekend only to find that one of the actors has actually been murdered.It was interesting to discover all the actors' true identities as their mock "storylines" had me convinced that they were someone else.The silly thing about this book is Claire's lack of supervision of her daughter with a murderer running around.Also, I think reading the first novel would be advisable as there is obviously a prior storyline between the Detective and Claire.Overall, it was a fast, light read.

4-0 out of 5 stars MURDER ISN'T A GAME!
Taking a break from the daily bookstore grind, Claire decides to get away from it all and drafts her daughter Caron to accompany her on a mystery murder weekend at the Mimosa Inn. Her boyfriend Peter Rosen (an investigator with the Farberville police department) scoffs at the whole idea of solving a pretend murder. This only makes Claire more determined to take part in the mystery murder weekend and become the person who solves the murder.

To complicate matters, Lt. Rosen shows up at the Inn shortly after Claire, who is positive he is only there to show her up. Clues are dispersed to the mystery participants up until the point when the murder victim turns up murdered for real.

With a situation like this, it's a given that Claire will try to out-sleuth Peter, and only get herself in harm's way. And with Joan Hess's comic flair and skillful plotting it turns into a pretty interesting read.It's the kind of book you want to read when you just want to get away from it all fora bit. Actually I enjoyed the book so much; I grabbed her A Diet To Die For from my bookshelf as my next book to read. (Also reviewed today on Amazon.)

4-0 out of 5 stars Deadly Game
Here's an intriguing tale in the "traditional/cozy" mystery genre. Claire Malloy drags her reluctant teenaged daughter, Caron, to a murder mystery weekend at the Mimosa Inn. Claire, bookstore owner and amateur detective, is determined to solve the mystery and win the prize: champagne. It's not that she wants to outwit the charming and disarmingly sexy local police detective, Pete Rosen. It's just that...well....The game progresses until, suddenly, the "victim" turns up dead. Really dead.

This is an early Hess mystery -- the second, I think, and her devil-may-care style is just developing. MURDER AT THE MIMOSA INN is unpretentious and good entertainment, almost as much fun as actually attending a murder mystery weekend.

Sunnye Tiedemann (aka Ruth F. Tiedemann)

4-0 out of 5 stars A classic Joan Hess mystery!
Joan Hess, creator of the Maggody series,introduces a new slueth in this amusing romp.Claire Malloy is wonderful as the bored bookstore owner looking for some excitement in her life.Claire's daughter Caron is every mothers' teenaged nightmare.The book provides a great introduction tothis series of amateur detective fiction at it's funniest. ... Read more

10. Roll Over and Play Dead (Claire Malloy Mysteries, No. 6)
by Joan Hess
Mass Market Paperback: 208 Pages (2003-05-18)
list price: US$5.99 -- used & new: US$2.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312988281
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Murder is going to the dogs. . .

Bookstore owner and amateur sleuth Claire Malloy has donned another hat (or is that a collar?)-as a petsitter extraordinaire. Her furry charges are Miss Emily Parchester's beloved basset hounds, Nick and Nora, and two very good dogs they are. Everything is just ducky...until they vanish. Other neighbors' pets have also disappeared, and no doubt a dognapper is on the prowl. . .

Switching to her sleuthing chapeau, Claire quickly locates the shabby abode of Newton Churls, who runs a black market in stolen animals. But instead of a pen filled with purloined pooches, Claire finds one very dead Newton-and it appears his own pit bull terriers did him in. Or did they? Claire smells a human rat behind the brutal murder. And mysteriously, Nick and Nora are still missing. Now Claire is doggedly determined to find them...and run a killer to the ground.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Joan Hess is Light and Fun
I always enjoy a Joan Hess book and this one is highly entertaining.She is able to tackle serious issues in an amusing way which brings the subject up in one's mind, but with a very large dose of entertaining mystery and lots of laughs.This is very good light reading with refreshing humor that makes you laugh out loud.She is one of my favorite authors.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not her best, but still good!
Roll Over & Play Dead reveals Hess as her usual entertaining, witty self, but this time it's with a twist: she takes on the controversial issue of animal testing.Most of the general public really doesn't know (and may not want to know) what goes on in the world of animal testing.I do know; I've been in some animal testing labs. The world of animal testing is much uglier & more unconscionable than animal research scientists would have you believe. Hess always writes a good story, and this time she includes a worthy cause that definitely needs more press.I'm impressed that she tackled the issue!

2-0 out of 5 stars Sheer propaganda!
I have recently become a dedicated Joan Hess fan. However, I have been reading her books out of order.Yesterday I started "Roll Over and Play Dead" ready for another light, funny story.Unfortunately, I gota speech from a soapbox.On page 28 one of the "good 'guys'"states: "The National Institute of Health gives away over three and ahalf billion dollars of your tax dollars so researchers can cut animals up,cripple them, blind them, burn them, infect them with diseases, and ingeneral torture them.Over seventy million animals die this way every yearso that someone can determine that you really shouldn't drink paint solventor put it in your eyes."

WHOA! Where to begin?In the context ofthis story the reader is led to believe that the majority of these pooranimals are pets - cats and dogs.NOT!!! Yes, I have been involved inanimal research.I, like the vast majority of whole animal researchers,use rats.Never have I caused a rat undue pain (they are anesthetized bylegal and moral code).Never have I pounded nails in a skull or any of theatrocities put forth in this book.In fact, I have never even heard ofsuch a thing occuring in a lab.On the other hand, I HAVE heard of suchthings in pets homes from a vet tech student of mine.Such horriblecruelties are much more commonly afflicted upon animals by their"loving" owners.

I stuck with this book through the end evenafter countless assults on scientists and the necessity of medicalresearch.I have never worked with dogs but I still take offense at theinsults steeped high in the course of the story.

I respect the views ofanimal rights groups.However I fully agree with a poster hanging in thelab where I worked.It shows a group of protesters and the caption reads"Because of animal research, they have 20.9 more years toprotest."The next time you pop an antibiotic to cure yourbronchitis, or a pill to lower your blood pressure thank a scientist and agroup of rats. ... Read more

11. O Little Town of Maggody: An Arly Hanks Mystery
by Joan Hess
 Paperback: 256 Pages (1994-11-01)
list price: US$4.50 -- used & new: US$19.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0451404572
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
When country music superstar Matt Montana returns to his small, depressed Arkansas hometown for a holiday benefit concert, murder undermines the celebration, prompting Arly Hanks to investigate. Reprint. K. NYT. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

1-0 out of 5 stars Same Boring Southern-Hick Joke Repeated Over and Over
This poorly written book is a murder mystery in which no less than 3 people turn up dead. It's part of a series about Arly Hanks, a divorced woman in her 30s who is the entire police force over a tiny southern town named Maggody.

When Matt Montana, an up-and-coming country singer claims he was born in Maggody and plans to go home for Christmas, things start to happen. The town residents -- portrayed as one stereotyped country boob after another-- get celebrity fever as each of them greedily schemes how to make money off of Maggody being Matt Montana's birth place. Along the way, 3 people end of up dead and while I forced myself to finish the book, only 2 of the deaths were explained. Unbelievably, the third death was not cleared up.

Here's why I hated the book. First, there are no sympathetic characters in this book-- not even the protagonist, Arly Hanks. A list of a few of the southern hicks that populate the town are an obese newlywed (many jokes about how many chins she has) who fears her husband is stepping out on her, a moonshiner constantly in need of a bath complete with a large pet pig, a slick, hypocritical, greedy minister, a convenience store clerk with crooked teeth, beady eyes, as well as a low IQ, and a henpecked husband. The main thrust of the humor in the book is to portray southerners in every negative, stereotypical way possible. I don't mind some politically incorrect jokes, but this got to be too much. The book would have been a lot better if at least a few of the residents of Maggody were decent, sincere people. Every town no matter how big or small (be it Manhatten or Maggody) has its share of fools, but there are also wonderful, genuine denizens no matter how thick their accents may be.

To add to matters, Arly Hanks was little more than an after thought in the book. It was clear she was recovering from an unhappy divorce, but almost NOTHING happens in her life in the course of this book. No love interest, no good friends, heck, even her mother was a bumpkin who tended to lecture her.

The final insult to the reader is that the third death is not explained AND the author is aware of this. At the end of the book, she has Arly saying to a police detective from another town that while the third death looks suspicious, it's not under her jurisdiction so she wouldn't pursue it. What??!! I feel cheated! Even a bad murder mystery ties up all the loose ends.

The book fails on every level and I don't plan on reading another Joan Hess mystery. Life is too short to risk investing time in another novel by this author.

3-0 out of 5 stars O Little Town of Maggody
ISBN 0451404572 - You know those people who tell sort of bad jokes and find themselves wildly amusing, while all you can do is roll your eyes?That's this Joan Hess book for me.And surely someone out there finds her amusing, because someone's buying the books - but I'm just rolling my eyes.

Arly's always got her hands full in Maggody, but this Christmas things are getting a little more hectic.The town is slowly dying, but there's hope on the horizon in the person of Matt Montana, Maggody's own prodigal son.He's serving his own career and the people of Maggody would benefit from a bit of tourism... so Matt's on his way to town.The problem is that Matt's Aunt Adele has gone missing.Arly is also trying to riddle out the moving city limits sign, deal with Dahlia's jealousy and suspicions about what Kevin's up to, the return of Hammett and a myriad of other goings-on in Maggody.

Arly Hanks reminds me of Isle of Dogs, but not quite as awful.In fact, not awful at all, just... dumb.The same "this is funny, really, you should laugh" feeling runs through both books, but they're just not - to me.The characters are so stereotypical that they're miles beyond amusing and closer to stupid.If you enjoy the tongue-in-cheek style, lightly mocking the mystery genre, you're going to enjoy Hess, and fans of Arly Hanks will like the book far more than I.Hess herself gave me a quote I couldn't pass up: "Writers ...they're so goofy nobody cares what they do."

- AnnaLovesBooks

1-0 out of 5 stars Just Could not Finish it !!!
I have been reading all of the Arly Hanks books in order and at first they were there cute little novels with charming characters from AR.This one I actually gave up on.Everything has become a cliche and just overdone.
I am sorry Ms. Hess - normally I love your work but this one I just could not get through.

4-0 out of 5 stars Getting better
A country and western music star is scheduled to visit his claimed home town and visit his dear old great-aunt. The usual Maggody misadventures and murders familiar to all ardent Hessians take place.
I think this is a series that gets better as it goes on. There is a certain crudity and dependence on cliches and stereotypes in the earlier character drawing. The fat girl Delia is greedy; the preacher is a hypocrite. The later ones have more subtlety.
"She had her cat, Pussy Toes, her apartment in a quiet neigborhood, her meetings of the genealogical society, her knitting projects for nieces and nephews, and her annual vaction to a family-run hotel in Mexico where she remained drunk out of her mind for ten days straight." You might accuse Hess of making fun of alcoholism in that portrait of Miss Vetchling but it has a certain style and sharpness.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Maggody gem
Despite the small town of Maggody's inability to pull itself into the sophisticated world of today. Arly manages just fine.When a country music star and his entourage arrive for a Christmas special,things get kinda weird. Not to worry though, Arly has everything under control.Disappearing people and dying mannequins?Do not miss this Christmasy murder mystery. ... Read more

12. Out on a Limb (Claire Malloy Mysteries, No. 14)
by Joan Hess
Mass Market Paperback: 336 Pages (2003-11-17)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$1.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312986327
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Faberville bookstore owner Claire Malloy is ruminating over the state of her love life when she gets disturbing news. Elderly Miss Emily Parchester is up a tree. Chained to an old oak, packing a thermos of tea and a gun, the retired schoolteacher is ready to go down with the ship, or rather the tree, before she'll let another historic piece of Farberville be bulldozed in the name of "progress," i.e., developer Anthony Armstrong's condominiums.

With Miss Parchester armed, and therefore dangerous, Claire fears this noble act will end tragically. Unfortunately, it does-when someone murders Armstrong.And suddenly Claire herself is out on a limb: a baby has been left on her doorstep, the child's teenage mom is suspect number one in Armstrong's death, and Claire needs to find the real killer fast.Especially when she discovers Miss Parchester knows more than she's willing to tell....
... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Unique Storyline
Joan Hess is one of my favorite authors, so my opinion of Out on a Limb is biased by the fact that I was sure I would like it before I bought it.

The best part of this book was the unique storyline.As you have no doubt read the description supplied by the publisher, I won't rewrite it here.I will just say that while other humorous mystery writers use the same storylines over and over, Hess comes up with fantastic new ideas each time.I loved this story about the Green Party, and I love the recurring characters in Claire Malloy's life -- in this case, Miss Parchester.

Even if I had guessed the ending of Out on a Limb before the last page of the book, I enjoy the style of Hess' writing so greatly that I cannot wait to see what Claire will do next.

If you like the Maggody books or have read the other Claire Malloy books, I recommend this one.It's a light, easy read that will at times make you Laugh Out Loud Caron Malloy-style.

2-0 out of 5 stars A disappointing addition to the series
Joan Hess is always a great read, but this Claire Malloy adventure wasn't up to her normal standard. Luanne and Caron were the actual stars this time, which was lots of fun, but Claire's lackadaisical parenting and business skills were just too prominently featured for me to enjoy the plot (would China Bayles give her the time of day? A smidge of personal growth wouldn't be too out of place in this series!) -- and the ending didn't make any sense, not because of the "who dunnit," but because the logistics were very questionable.Finally, not a single character mentioned the the baby to the police, even in passing?I guess I'll have to wait for the next installment to have a better "Joan Hess fix".

3-0 out of 5 stars Just so-so
Potboiler; passes the time when there was nothing more interesting at the library.The cop boyfriend is a really cardboard character.A bunch of weird excentics.Won't check out any more.Try Ann Cranger or Deborah Crombie for a GOOD read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fun book to read
this was a fun book to read & it kept you guessing.

Claire sure knows how to get around a question when the police ask her something. She kept everyone guessing through the whole book & the ending is a surprise.

Another wonderful book by Joan Hess

5-0 out of 5 stars Great addition to series
Claire Malloy, bookseller and amateur sleuth, is a person I would love tohave living next door. She is wickedly funny and incredibly sharp. With a cast of supporting characters who weave in and out of the main storyline, her neighborhood seems the most interesting in Farberville, Arkansas. Humor and an intriguing storyline make this a welcome addition to the Claire Malloy series which seems refreshed with every entry. I recommend them all for fun reading. ... Read more

13. Damsels in Distress (Claire Malloy Mysteries, No. 16)
by Joan Hess
Mass Market Paperback: 336 Pages (2008-03-04)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$3.56
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312989938
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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A Renaissance Fair is coming to the relatively quiet college town of Farberville Arkansas, which is not the sort of news that usually sets local bookseller Claire Malloy’s heart racing. But with Claire’s daughter, Caron, being the perpetually petulant teenager that she is, and her fiancé, Police Lieutenant Peter Rosen, away, she finds herself drawn into the strange inner workings of the group putting on the fair.

Stranger still: A Ren Fair volunteer has just been found burned in the wreckage of a rented home. Who is this woman, and why haven’t any of her associates ever met her in the flesh? When the fair is set to open, tensions expose the dark secrets and malevolent schemes that lurk beneath the surface. Now, with Claire’s dreams of a blissful wedding hanging in the balance, she has no choice but to fling herself into the battle and match wits with the killer…

... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

4-0 out of 5 stars Like a Haagen Dazs ice cream pop
Another deliciously deviant Claire Malloy mystery! Lots of interesting characters, plot twists, and colorful insults. A load of fun!

5-0 out of 5 stars Dansels in Distress (Claire Malloy Mysteries, No. 16)
Joan Hess is a national treasure; her writing is humorous, mysterious, and insightful, her characters interesting and delightful, and her stories are well-designed to guide the reader effortlessly through the heroine's outlandish adventure from casual exposition to exciting finale.

I have enjoyed every wonderful one of her Claire Malloy and Arly Hanks series, and when I have gone back later and read them again they were just as entertaining as they were the first time. That, I must say, elevates them above the field of "Popular Books" to the more rarified catagory of "Literature."

From Claire's agonized (and agonizing) teen-age daughter Caron, and Caron's faithful sidekick Inez, to the wild and weird Buchanan family that surrounds Sheriff Arly as she dutifuly tries to solve the latest intriguing mystery, Joan Hess's characters capture the reader's imagination and admiration.

Her novels are a lot like potato chips; you can't read just one!

1-0 out of 5 stars Does Claire Malloy Like Anybody or Anything?
I think Claire Malloy needs to seek professional help.For some reason, she seems to think she is superior to everyone she meets.She doesn't even like her daughter or her fiance Peter Rosen, with whom there is no chemistry.I won't even go into the silly plot or the contrived conclusion.This series ran out of steam a couple of books ago.

2-0 out of 5 stars Tedious and not very funny
I've enjoyed Joan Hess' other books (both the Claire Malloy series and the Maggody series) but I had to struggle to get through this one. Maybe it's because I find Renaissance fairs silly, but I really didn't enjoy this one.

2-0 out of 5 stars Too clever by half
I enjoyed Joan Hess's Maggody series, but I find Claire Malloy (the main character in this book) to be sarcastic, sardonic, supercilious, and, well, just plain snotty. She is not a character I enjoy spending my spare time with. ... Read more

14. Miracles in Maggody: An Arly Hanks Mystery
by Joan Hess
Paperback: 288 Pages (1996-11-01)
list price: US$5.99 -- used & new: US$19.26
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0451406567
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
The ninth hilarious mystery starring Chief of Police Arly Hanks pits her against an evangelist-cum-charlatan whose ambitions coincide with the mysterious deaths of several citizens of the small town of Maggody, Arkansas. Reprint. K. PW. AB. Amazon.com Review
SharynMcCrumb says "Joan Hess is the patron saint of comicmystery," and that endorsement by a fine writer of mostlynon-comic mysteries should be good enough for anyone who likes achuckle with their chills. For the uninitiated, Maggody is the smallArkansas town where Arly Hanks rules as police chief and where troubleusually begins with an M--as in the previous adventures as Madness in Maggody, Malice in Maggody, Martians in Maggody, Mischief in Maggody, andMuch Ado inMaggody. (Well, it does make the books easy to identify.) In thislatest, just out in paperback, Hess brings greedy televangelistMalachi Hope to town, and all hell breaks loose. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Mirth in Maggody
Miracles in Maggody is one of a series of mysteries set in the mythical town of Maggody, Arkansas.Joan Hess has created a town full ofinteresting (and very funny) people.Living in Maggody might be hell; reading about Maggody is heaven.If you were turned off by the ClaireMalloy series by Hess (and who isn't irritated by heroines who can onlyunmask a killer by doing something incredibly stupid), don't worry.TheMaggody series is blessed with humor, wit and charm and a likable heroine. Miracles in Maggody unfairly stereotypes fundamentalist Christians.ButHess unfairly stereotypes most other ethnic and religious groups -- anddoes it with so much light hearted style -- that even a dyed in the woolfundamentalist like me enjoyed the book.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good for giggles and getting away from it all.
Serendipity is one of my favorite states of mind and finding Joan Hess andher sheriff/heroine Arly Hanks was a serendipitous treat a few years ago. In the latest edition that I picked up in paperback, Miracles in Maggody,Arly is once again the oasis of sanity in the odd little town of Maggody,Arkansas, as she takes on evangelist Malachi Hope and his entourage whichincludes his wife Seraphina and "adopted" daughter Chastity.Theplot won't be much of a surprise to mystery lovers--or even television ormovie watchers (I thought of the Steve Martin movie Leap of Faith whilereading).But if you are unacquainted with the genre of comic mysteries,the Arly Hanks series is about as good as you'll get for a starting point. Like many authors who write a series centered on a main character, Ms. Hessallows the reader to pick up any single edition and feel comfortable withthe charaters, their background, and the setting.The Maggody series is soplace-specific, though, that I highly recommend reading them in order. This town is full of the rarest of characters, many of them in-bred, andeach book seems to build on their collective quirks and foibles andunexpected delights--to say nothing of belly laughs--so reading them inorder is more like moving to Maggody and getting to know the towncharacters over a period of time.Don't expect sex (well, not much and notreally x-rated) or rough language or even convoluted plot lines.But themystery hangs together well enough to keep you intrigued, as well as thesubsidiary plot lines.And even though I guessed the "bad guy"long before the denouement, it didn't spoil the fun of getting away to thebackwoods of Arkansas for a few hours. ... Read more

15. Strangled Prose (Claire Malloy Mysteries, No. 1)
by Joan Hess
Mass Market Paperback: 192 Pages (1998-11-15)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.43
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312968647
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
She would have killed for a bestseller--but someone beat her tow it...

Professor of Passion, the smutty new romance from Mildred Twiller--a.k.a. Azalea Twilight--isn't the kind of book Claire Mallow likes to hock at her bookstore, but Claire agrees to host a book party for her friend's trashy tale.As torrid as the novel is, it's nothing compared to the evening.After the party, poor Mildred is found dead in her home--stranged with a tightly knotted silk scarf.Now it's up to Clair to find Mildred's killer, and it won't be easy--the two-bit author had offended nearly every faculty member she worked with at nearby Faber College.But who could have hated Mildred with such smoldering passion?
... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

2-0 out of 5 stars You've seen all this before
Not a very well thought out plot and yes, once again, the relationship energy comes from the police character.

5-0 out of 5 stars Score one more for Joan Hess
Typical of Joan Hess, it's engaging, interesting and hard to put down. The characters are lifelike, and the town is one you feel like you know.

3-0 out of 5 stars Has been reprinted
... It is old-fashioned in a way. The police procedures are unrealistic and being gay can lead to being fired from an academic post. Much of the humor is heavy-handed and corny (addressing the cop as "Sherlock" for instance) but somehow I found it worked for me. It's unpretentious fun in the tradition of those old English cosies that were relaxing and easy to read if you willingly suspended disbelief.

1-0 out of 5 stars Unexciting and uninteresting whodunnit
The only good thing about this book is that you don't have to read all of it to find out whodunnit. The identity of the murderer is obvious from chapter 2 -- even before anyone has been murdered! With their identity so clear so early on, you don't need any clues or sleuthing, which is a good thing, because there aren't any. When the showdown comes and the murderer's identity is "revealed" to anyone who has bothered to read this far, whopping great loose ends are left hanging around, leaving you asking "But why -- and what about -- ?" The setting -- a bookshop -- could have been interesting but little is made of it. This book is the first in Joan Hess's Malloy series, and as far as I'm concerned, it's also the last.

5-0 out of 5 stars Thank God there are lots more Claire Malloys to read!
What a pleasant surprise!I'd read a "Maggody" mystery some time ago, not realizing there was another Joan Hess series to savor.Claire Malloy is bright, sarcastic, ironic, and funny as all get-out.Theplot has enough twists and turns to keep you going...I stayed up way toolate two nights in a row to finish it.Peter Rosen has definitepossibilities, although his character wasn't developed quite as much asClaire's; since this was Claire's opening gambit, however, that'sunderstandable.Loved this book, and right now I'm trying to figure outthe order in which the rest were written so I can follow through properly(I always read a series in order to follow character development). Definitely have your library rustle up a copy of this one, and, I suspect,the rest of the series, as well! ... Read more

16. Maggody in Manhattan: An Arly Hanks Mystery
by Joan Hess
Paperback: 256 Pages (1993-10-01)
list price: US$5.50 -- used & new: US$30.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0451403762
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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In Manhattan to investigate her friend Ruby Bee's involvement in a murder, Chief of Police Arly Hanks goes behind the scenes at the KoKo-Nut Cooking Contest in order to find a killer. Reprint. NYT. AB. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

1-0 out of 5 stars Arly Hanks leaves Maggody
You can take the girl out of Maggody but you can't put quality into the writing.Unfortunately, this is just another example of the poor character development that Ms. Hess is known for.She has come up with suchwonderful characters and does absolutely nothing with them, leaving youwith a boring book and a waste of several reading hours.There are alot of"cozy" writers out there.I would give this one a pass.

1-0 out of 5 stars Even a humorous mystery has to make a smidgen of sense
Joan Hess is a very funny writer.Her Maggody series is a hoot.She creates situations and dialogue that make you laugh out loud.But she can't plot a mystery much better than her designated idiot, Kevin Buchanon,probably could.The plot in this one is a muddled mess.

5-0 out of 5 stars i felt confused of some of the contestants

5-0 out of 5 stars Humorous transplantation of Maggody, AR folks to Manhattan.
Joan Hess is a delightful writer.She has defined the small southern town of Maggody and it's eccentric residents in a series of books about Arly Hanks, the sheriff, and Clara,her mother. In this, Clara has won a baking contest and travels to New York with her best friend to accept her prize.Needless to say, things are not what they should be.Dead bodies appear and Arly has to leave Maggody to save the day. The assorted Buchanons in the book are hilarious and make this novel well worth reading. ... Read more

17. Poisoned Pins: A Claire Malloy Mystery
by Joan Hess
Kindle Edition: 272 Pages (2010-04-01)
list price: US$6.99
Asin: B003H4I4U4
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Claire Malloy loves her life. But how did it go by so fast? A bookstore owner, part-time sleuth, and full-time single mother, Claire is about to turn the big four-oh! Good thing her teenage daughter, Caron, has just been recruited by the Kappa Theta Eta girls--whose sorority house is next door to the Malloys'--to be a consultant for the cosmetics empire My Beautiful Self, Inc. At the very least, Claire can get a little help with those fine lines around her eyes?but at what cost?

Turns out there's a high price to pay to look one's best. After a series of dangerous and suspicious incidents, including a hit-and-run "accident" that kills a sorority sister, it becomes clear to Claire that the beauty business in Farberville, Arkansas, is getting pretty ugly--and with every new makeover another dark circle rises from beneath the surface?.
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Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars joan hess
I have all her books and will continue to buy them.Love the heroine.

3-0 out of 5 stars Careful.
Poisoned Pins was published by Dutton in 1993.Potential buyers should be aware of that fact.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Good Cozy Mystery
This was an enjoyable cozy mystery.The story flowed, the characterizations were good, the mystery solvable.There was even some humor thrown in, along with teenage angst and naughty happenings at the sorority next door.

Claire's money problems were realistic so that I felt like I wanted to shop in her store and help her out.However, it was frustrating to read about the way she let her daughter do whatever she wanted and talk to her disrepectfully.I also couldn't believe that Claire was so nosy.But then I later realized that Claire and her daughter are very much alike.

Though not my favorite cozy mystery series, this one is enjoyable.I'll read the whole series eventually.

1-0 out of 5 stars Arly is much better
After having read a number of Hess' "Arly Hanks" books, I decided to give Claire Malloy a try.I was disappointed with the characters and, in particular, this story line.Both were much toopredictable.I had to keep checking the cover to make sure it was the sameauthor as the one I've always found enjoyable in the Arly Hanks series.

5-0 out of 5 stars Joan Hess is a delight to read and this is one of her best.
Joan Hess is loads of fun to read and this is one of my favorites. Her characters are delightful and the heroine is someond you can really identify with. Highly recommended ... Read more

18. The Goodbye Body: A Claire Malloy Mystery
by Joan Hess
Kindle Edition: 320 Pages (2010-04-01)
list price: US$6.99
Asin: B003J564TE
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Claire Malloy runs a bookstore in the normally quiet college town of Farberville, Arkansas - an enterprise which provides the verging-on-meager living for her and her deeply sarcastic teenage daughter Caron. So when emergency work forces Claire and Caron to abandon their apartment for a few weeks, they are in no financial position to put themselves up in style and Claire is thrilled to accept a customer's offer to let them stay at her well-stocked, well-equipped palatial home while she is traveling.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy. No sooner do Claire and Caron ensconce themselves than disquieting events start to occur - dubious people show up looking for the 'traveling' owner of the house; the owner herself turns out not to be who she claimed and is now seemingly on the run; and a dead body keeps turning up - and subsequently disappearing - around the grounds of the house. Determined, for once, to stay out of the mysterious doings, Claire's hand is finally forced when the disappearing body turns out to be only the first corpse to turn up...
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Customer Reviews (13)

3-0 out of 5 stars Nice read but not up to her old standards
I've read a few books by Joan Hess and generally like them. I've always gotten a kick out of how she shows Claire Malloy's teenage daughter's pronouncements in capitals. "That's Not Funny, Mother" is an example. Anyone with a teenager can relate. The characters are well drawn, there's humor thrown in to leaven the story.

With "The Goodbye Body", though, I was quite irritated with how Claire Malloy acts with great stupidity, even for a protagonist known for getting herself into trouble.

MAJOR SPOILER ALERT:Claire is housesitting for Dolly, a woman new in town for six months and whom she doesn't know that well and for whom she has no working contact information. A dead body has been found in the house's freezer, a young woman was attacked in the driveway, Claire's bookstore has been ransacked and she was given a concussion when someone hit her over the head.All this, and when she finds the unlockable gate to the house's back yard ajar, she hmmms and goes to pour herself a drink. All this, and she lets in two pool men and a flower delivery man and gives them drinks in the kitchen, etc, without asking for credentials or making any calls to find out if they are "real". I don't know about you, but I'd be barricading the gate or put a lock on it and I would do my best to verify who I'm inviting in the house.

The police tell her that they can find no record of Dolly existing before her six month arrival in town, they can find no record of anyone with the name of Dolly's (now dead) husband, and, oh, the dead man found with a bullet through his forehead in the house freezer was a mobster with a long rap sheet and the one call she got from Dolly was from the stiff's cell phone.All this and when Claire finds a hidden VHS of the woman she knew as Dolly dancing in a competition, she's rehides the video and doesn't bother showing it to the police.

These are examples of how the book's plot seems too contrived to me, lacking in verisimillitude. It's still an easy read, but I found myself too annoyed by the plot to really like the book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another well written mystery story
Another very enjoyable book in the series.The book and characters are interesting and very true to life, in their everyday existance.I have enjoyed every one of the Claire Malloy books I have read and look forward to more enjoyable books in the future.

5-0 out of 5 stars What is not to love about Claire Malloy?
Joan Hess - the author of the Magoody Series as well - lives in Arkansas.She writes about what she knows - and brings Arkansas to life in a way that allows the reader to see both the charm and the frustration of small-town life.

Claire Malloy runs a small bookstore in an old train car, in the small, quiet college town of Farberville, AR.This provides enough to just get by for her and her daughter, Caron - a very dramatic and sarcastic character that speaks loudly to those who live with teenagers!

In this installment in the series, Claire has discovered - to her abject horror - a rat.In her kitchen.That she did NOT invite in.She bullies her landlord into evicting her downstairs neighbors (who sound almost as slobby as me!) and doing a thorough fogging and (while he is at it) remodel on her apartment.When a customer - Dolly - learns about this, she offers Claire and Caron her house - to house-sit while she goes out of town to visit family.She even throws in her fancy Mercedes for Caron to drive around in.Claire thinks they've got it made - swimming pool, luxurious living situation - until the girls see a body.

Unfortunately, when Claire goes to look, it is gone.This happens several times until eventually the body is finally found ... in the freezer.Also, people keep showing up looking for Dolly.

Full of fun characters, plenty of laughs AND a good mystery, this is a book not to be missed by fans of the series, of Joan Hess, or just people who enjoy a lighter fare in their mysteries.Definitely give this series a try!

4-0 out of 5 stars Another Great Claire Mystery
How does Joan Hess do it again and again and again? Her Claire Malloy mysteries are funny, smart, and interesting. She has me hooked by the cleverness of her heroine, as well as by the intricacies of the plot. I devoured this one in a single plane ride. I do think Claire may be becoming a bit TOO testy, but just a tad, as her ascerbic wit is part of her unending charm. Well done, Ms. Hess!

3-0 out of 5 stars Now You See It, Now You Don't
Claire Malloy, owner of The Book Depot, in Farberville Arkansas is having a bad day.There are rats in her kitchen and she is going to have to move out while the problem and other emergency work is taken care of.This could take weeks.

Fortunately, Dolly, one of her customer's at the store is going away for a few weeks and wants Claire to housesit for her.

So she moves into the palatial estate with her daughter Caron and Caron's best friend Inez.What could be more perfect?

Not this.No sooner does she move in than Caron and Inez claim to have found a dead body in the back yard.The body has disappeared by the time the police show up and Claire tries to convince herself that the girls really hadn't seen anything.

Then things start to get strange.Madison and Sara Louise, claiming to be nieces of Dolly show up and claim their car had broken down while coming down to see Dolly and they needed a place to stay.

Other strange people seem to be lurking around the area and when Claire see's a dead body in the yard, which also disappears before the police can show up makes her worried about everyone's safety, which proves true, when the much seen dead body shows up in the freezer in the garage.

Who is the man?What was he doing there.Where is Dolly, who has disappeared and appears not to be who she says she is.What is going on, why are the FBI investigatingand are they in danger?

Claire decides to investigate with the help of Lt. Peter Rosen, "her boyfriend" the web of secrets, lies and more murders as she wonders if maybe they shouldn't have stayed at the "Dew Drop Inn."


Claire Malloy, she is a very adult acting character.Serious-minded, but you almost have to be if you're a widow raising a teenager alone and trying to get along on an iffy business like a book store.

Peter Rosen, who is a great boyfriend and friend.He doesn't like her investigating, but helps all he can because he knows he won't be able to stop her.

Caron and her best friend Inez.Typical middle of the group teenagers, they're not in the "A" group of teenagers, although they want to be, but they're not in the "Z" group either. They are actually the funniest characters in these books.

A complex mystery.A lot of twists and turns.A very quick read.

The sci-fi fan pot-head, who spends most of his time trying to shop lift from her store.He's been in since the first of this series and add just a touch of humor whenever he appears.


For the first time, Claire does some really dumb things.When you're house sitting, you don't let two total strangers move in without asking the home owner. And when they're obnoxious, and insulting to your daughter and her friend, treating them like maids and making it miserable for them to live in the house you throw them out.I didn't understand Claire's insisting that they stay, except as a plot maneuver to move the story along.

Except for Peter & Inez there aren't a lot of reoccurring characters that appear in this book.Claire needs a wider circle of friends.

Minor problems, but still a very good read.

I think this series has one of the longest time between books, the last book "Out On A Limb" came out in 2002 and it was a little difficult to get back into the characters.

Check out Joan Hess's, Maggody series, with Arly Hanks.I don't enjoy it as much as the Claire Malloy series, but it's also a good series. ... Read more

19. The Maggody Militia (Arly Hanks Mystery)
by Joan Hess
Paperback: 224 Pages (1998-04-01)
list price: US$5.99 -- used & new: US$9.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0451407261
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Maggody, Arkansas, is a peaceful little Ozarks town snuggled in the heartland of America...until a group of camouflage-clad patriots march in with maneuvers and murder. Suddenly, Chief of Police Arly Hanks has her hands full: burglars are breaking into houses; the mayor is missing; and a survivalist has just been killed. Which leaves Arly hunting for a motive,a means, and a murderer. Wisely, she reckons there isn't a secret government conspiracy behind this homicide-- just the usual human evils of blind ambition, big money, and deadly obsessions!

• Joan Hess has over 1 million copies of her Onyx books in print!
•Joan Hess is also the author of the popular Claire Malloy and Theo Bloomer mystery series
•Hess is an Agatha, McCavity, and American Mystery Award winner, and is also President of the American Crime Writers League ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Maggody--what a place to live
Like all the Maggody mysteries, this one was wonderful.The mystery part may not be that hard to solve, but the laughs are on every page.Joan Hess never fails to write a fantastic Maggody mystery--I just wish she would write more of them.The people who inhabit Maggody are wonderful.The Buchanons, Brother Verber, police chief Arly Hanks.I want to stop at the Dairy Delicious and get to know all of them!

5-0 out of 5 stars The Many Misadventures of Arly Hanks
'Magoddy Militia' is the kind of book that is a chocolate bon-bon. You can't stop at one. If you read one Maggody mystery, you gotta read them all. Joan Hess and Janet Evanovich are the grand dames of the humorous murder mysteries. If you like Southern-type humor with backwoods colloquialisms and a smathering of Ellery Queen, Dragnet and Mayberry R.F.D. then you'll just love Hess series of Maggody mysteries. Joan Hess has written eleven Maggody mysteries, as well as twelve Claire Malloy mysteries. she is also the current president of the American Crime Writers League. The series is set in Maggody, Arkansas a peaceful little town snuggles somewhere in the heart of the Ozarks. These are the best laugh-out-loud whodunit of pure rollicking fun.

Start with this one and then follow with:
Malice in Maggody
Mischief in Maggody
Much Ado in Maggody
Madness in Maggody
Mortal Remains in Maggody
Maggody in Manhattan
O Little Town of Maggody
Martians in Maggody
Miracles in Maggody
Maggody and the Moonbeams

Hess credits her information in writing 'The Maggody Militia' from the 'Armed and Dangerous: The Rise of the Survivalist Right' by James Coates. And pretty much what this story is related to. Our sleuth heroine of Maggody, Arkansas is Chief of Police Arly Hanks. It isn't until a group of camouflage-clad patriots march into town with practice maneuvers-and mayhem and murder. It starts when the widow Kayleen Smeltner lets a group of demented miliants use her pastures for paint-ball war games during the first week of deer hunting season. Then all of a sudden all mayhem breaks loose. Burglars are breaking into houses. The Mayor Jim Bob turns up missing. And, Dylan Gilbert a survialist has been killed or so it seems. If that isn't enough two unpredictable ostrichs have the town up in arms. Arly Hanks has her hands full to find a motive, a means and a murderer. With her wise detective instinct she reckons there isn't a secret government conspiracy behind all this,nope just your average human evil-doers of blind ambition, greed, and deadly obsessions. The story is hiliarious and entertainingly engaging. The dialogue makes for alot of that down-home flair and much humor. I've had fun reading 'Maggody' and look forward to reading further episodes. You're sure to have a good time with the 'Maggody' gang.

5-0 out of 5 stars More Misadventures in Maggody.....
This is just what police chief, Arly Hanks, needs.A militia of homegrown super patriots have camped in Maggody, trying to recruit new members, and playing war games up on Cotter's Ridge.With deer hunting season about to begin, guaranteeing drunken, brazen good old boys shooting at any and everything that moves out there in the woods, she figures it's only a matter of time before somebody will end up getting hurt.And that's exactly what happens.Not only does militiaman, Dylan Gilbert, get shot and killed on the first day of maneuvers, but it seems that the bullet is not what did him in.Add to that the disappearance of the ever-creepy, Brother Verber, a very pregnant and missing Dahlia Buchanon, a rash of burglaries in and around Maggody, and a couple of wayward ostriches wreaking havoc, and you could say that Arly has her hands full in a very big way.....Joan Hess is back with another hilarious, manicromp through Maggody, and this is a series that just gets better with each new installment.The story line is entertaining, the writing, crisp,witty, and engaging, and the dialogue, irreverent and full of down-home colloquialisms and backwoods humor.But it's Ms Hess' unique cast of wacky and quirky characters that make this book stand out, and once you've gotten to know Arly and company, you'll be hooked for sure.With an ending that brings all the plot lines together, and ties up the loose ends into a nice, neat, satisfying package, The Maggody Militia is a delightful and humorous mystery that shouldn't be missed.For those new to Arly Hanks and Maggody, Arkansas, start at the beginning with Malice In Maggody, and read them all.For those of you who are already fans, Joan Hess definitely doesn't disappoint this time out.

4-0 out of 5 stars Joan Hess is fun to read
Joan Hess and Janet Evanovich are the two most enjoyable mystery writers in America.If humor in a mystery novel offends you, avoid them like the plague.But if you read for fun, if you read to escape for a few hours from the drudgery of a job or the drivel of television, read a Joan Hess mystery set in Maggody, Arkansas, or a Janet Evanovich mystery set in New Jersey.These two ladies have a way of putting words on paper that is simply and purely entertaining.In The Maggody Militia, a few paranoid members a rightwing militia decide to hold exercises in the woods near Maggody.As usual, Chief of Police Arly Hanks has to solve a murder while dealing with the strangest set of characters ever to appear in a mystery.


20. Malice in Maggody
by Joan Hess
 Hardcover: 127 Pages (2000-06)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$224.52
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312001517
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
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Product Description
Author of The Claire Malloy Mystery Series and The Theo Bloomer Mystery Series (writing as Joan Hadley), Joan Hess creates a new series starring Sheriff Arly Hanks, the spunkiest, most appealing, off-beat sleuth around. When murders disrupt the peaceful town of Maggody, Sheriff Hanks and her slow deputy, Paulie, set out on a hilarious, hell-raising chase through the backwoods in search of a murderer. HC: St. Martin's. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

4-0 out of 5 stars like fine wine, gets better with age
I used to live in a small town like Maggody, but it was in Idaho. I worked for a lady who was much like Ruby Bee in the later books. I think this was one of the 1st in the series. Ruby Bee is better in the later books, as she gets crustier. But I love the whole series & am eagerly awaiting the next one.

5-0 out of 5 stars Charming beginning to a fun series
If you start to get a little tired of the fast-paced suspense thrillers, the gritty mysteries and the noir police procedurals; if you miss a good, old-fashioned mystery, with charming people in a charming place; check out the Magoody series.While my previous sentence might make you think this series is too "precious," I can assure you that it is not at all.These are well-written mysteries - even murders - but done with a back-home country twang that you can't help but love.

Arly Hanks - after going through a bitter divorce and leaving her job as a police detective in New York City - moves back home to Magoody, Arkansas, and takes over as chief of police.It is a quiet job in a very small town (which population I can't find again now that I want it, but it was smaller, I remember, than my own home town, which boasted about 700 people in town and another 300 throughout the country thereabouts ...) where nothing ever happens.

Until now.There is need for new waste-relocation sources for a neighboring town, and when the EPA OKs the dumping of sewage into Magoody's favorite fishing hole, people are up in arms.The EPA bureaucrat who is supposed to show up and get all the paperwork signed ... doesn't show up.And then a barmaid - young, pretty and about to "escape" to cosmetology school - turns up dead.

This is a really fun series - I've read three or four of them - and although they are somewhat hard to find, they are definitely worth the effort to get and read.Don't miss out!

5-0 out of 5 stars mystery reader
The Maggody series is absolutely one of the funniest set of books I have ever read. You'll find that the storyline is secondary to the people that live in this town. I find myself wanting to know more about the lives of the people that live there then finding out who the murderer was. For those of you who've been to rural communities you 've most probably seen the washing machine on the front porch right beside the tv and sofa, the half dozen junk cars rusting in the yard, the several dozen bald tires etc. For those of you who haven't, her description of Maggody are really based on facts. A truly comedic version of the movie, 'Deliverance'. I have read this series three times and I still get a side-splitting kick out of them. The story starts off with the introduction of Arly Hanks, the Chief of Police of this small town. She's about the only normal one. The other characters that show up frequently in the series are Arly's nosy mother and her sidekick who happens to own the only beauty shop in town, the Mayor and his wife who are also cousins, a 'hell and damnation' preacher who is constantly hoping to witness or listen to any unusual sexual activities, a moonshiner and his pet sow that watches tv and gets her own recliner, a young man named Kevin Buchanon and his well rounded wife and lots of polecats. There are loads of quirky characters who are a hoot to read about. Even their names are hysterical - Siffalus, Petrol, Diesel, Peteet and many many more.

5-0 out of 5 stars Laugh-out-loud mystery filled with crazy characters!
This is the first book in the truly hillarious Arly Hanks series. This may be the first book that has ever made me actually laugh out loud while reading it. The cast of characters are priceless, and you can look forward to meeting all of them again in each book of this fantastic series. Highly recommended for cozy mystery lovers!

5-0 out of 5 stars These characters are REAL
I swear the characters in all of the Maggody books are REAL--Joan Hess has done an absolutely AMAZING job of populating Maggody with delightfully human and real people with a flawless eye towards their foibles, their inadequacies, and their sensitivities.Those readers from anywhere else may scoff, but I grew up in a small town near the Ozarks, and I KNOW the characters in these books are real. They are the people I grew up with and the relatives that show up at my family reunions.I could easily let myself get homesick if I weren't so busy laughing at their antics. ... Read more

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