#FlashbackFriday – Much Ado in Maggody (The Arly Hanks Mysteries) by Joan Hess #Review / #Giveaway

On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.

Much Ado in Maggody (The Arly Hanks Mysteries)
Humorous Mystery (Explicit Language)
3rd in Series
Setting – Arkansas
Publisher: MysteriousPress.com/Open Road;
Reprint edition (June 7, 2016)
Originally Published January 1, 1989
Paperback: 208 pages
ISBN-10: 0312029527
ISBN-13: 978-0312029524

A hilarious police procedural set in the strangest town in the Ozarks, where whip-smart sheriff Arly Hanks does everything she can to keep the peace.


Nothing ever happens in Maggody, Arkansas, population 755. Aside from handling the occasional barroom brawl or exploding still, Chief of Police Arly Hanks spends her days sipping coffee and squashing flies. She returned to Maggody two years ago, licking her wounds after a bad Manhattan divorce, and she fell backward into the role of sheriff. From Hizzoner the Moron—also know as Jim Bob Buchanon, the pettily corrupt mayor—to Ruby Bee Hanks—Arly’s mother and the town’s foremost gossip—the people of Maggody are all crazy in their own ways, and that craziness is about to turn deadly.


When Joanna Mae Nookim returns to work after giving birth, the bank manager bumps her down to minimum wage as punishment for taking time off. It’s outrageous, but there’s nothing Arly can do. But when the bank burns to the ground and the head teller is found dead, Maggody threatens to burst into an all-out revolution for the sake of women’s rights.


Fans of comic mysteries have known for years that no small town is quite like Maggody. With its wild cast of characters and its no-nonsense female detective, Much Ado in Maggody is evidence of master of cozy mysteries Joan Hess at her best.


Dollycas’s Thoughts

Back in Maggody where mayhem is in rare form. Joanna Mae Nookim returns to her job at the bank after having a baby to find she has been demoted and been replaced by a wet behind the ears Brandon Bernswallow. Well, she is not going to take it sitting down. Arly can’t help her but tells her she may be able to get a lawyer to take her case, which she does. Soon there is a protest march and a crowd of women set up for the long haul in the parking lot across the street. But then someone sets fire to the bank and Brandon Bernswallow is found dead inside creating Much Ado in Maggody! Can Arly get to the bottom of it or will mayhem reign?

I have continued to read this series for the pure comic delight. The explicit language still gives me a cringe or two, but I can set that aside when a few sentences later I am laughing my head off. I have to remind myself this book was originally released back in 1989, but equal rights for women is still a current topic although we have come a long way.

Maggody is full of quirky characters and Arly has her hands full as the men and women of the town face-off over the way Joanna Mae Nookim was treated at the bank. It opens up a whole can of worms as the wives in town decide their husbands could be treating them better too. All the characters are colorful but stereotypical in many ways. That said, they are funny.

Again, the murder mystery part of the story is pretty simplistic but entertaining. Some will classify this story as a cozy mystery, and the mystery is set up the way, the f-bombs and other explicit language take it out of that genre for me. If you love funny stories and are not offended by the language you will enjoy this book and series. I will be grabbing the next book in the series when I need to get carried away by the humor and craziness only found in Maggody.

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About the Author

I was sad to learn while researching this series that the author passed away in November 2017. Joan Hess was an American mystery writer, a member of Sisters in Crime, and a former president of the American Crime Writers League. She wrote two popular mystery series: The Claire Malloy Mysteries and The Maggody Mysteries (also called The Arly Hanks Mysteries), and has contributed to multiple anthologies and book series, including Crosswinds, Deadly Allies, Malice Domestic, Sisters in Crime, and The Year’s 25 Finest Crime and Mystery Stories. She also wrote the Theo Bloomer mystery series, under the pseudonym Joan Hadley.

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*This book was from my private collection.