Monday, January 08, 2007

A Is For Alibi, M Is For Maggody

A Is For Alibi features a great mystery, devastating betrayal, and most of all an amazing spinster – Kinsey Milhone. I want to read a few more in the series before I make up my mind but I already adore Kinsey. (Down with houseplants!) The great thing about her is that she does what she wants, when she wants. She eats what she wants, lives how she wants, goes where she pleases. Hers is a truly independent life; she answers to none, except of course her clients. Having cycled through two bad (or bad-for-her) husbands, she now lives alone which any smart spinster can tell you is a breath of fresh air. The mystery in this book is pretty decent and the clues that lead Kinsey on a wild goose chase all over SoCal and Vegas captivated this reader too. But even more than the mystery, we are captivated by the character. I’ll definitely try a few more in this series … eventually.

But there’s another series I’ve suddenly got to get me some more of – Joan Hess’ marvelous Maggody series. I read Much Ado In Maggody (not the first in the series, but the earliest I could get my hands on) and I have to say it charmed the pants off me. Part of me envisions Chief Arly Hanks as a sister in kind to Kinsey Milhone, and wants to slap a cheesy label on them like, “Sassy Spinsters with Grit ‘n’ Wit” and sell ‘em as a combo to people in need of some straight talk and a dry chuckle or two. Arly Hanks is the Chief of Police in Maggody, and some days she can’t quite get into the excessive folksiness of the townspeople – or the stubborn, meddling, advice-giving of hot tempered Ruby Bee, owner of Ruby Bee’s Bar and Grill … and her mother. It’s time like this she can be quite sardonic, but luckily that flies right over most Maggodonians’ heads (well, except Rubella Belinda Hanks’). Joan Hess is so downright hilarious and her characters so rib-tickling, that I really quite forget what the mystery was about, only that it was a real barnstormer. Hess is not only hilarious, but she also has the best author photo ever:

Plus, in Maggody, the locals turn a great phrase. Here’s a sampling of the local Maggody dialect, with English translations as needed.

“I haven’t got a glimmer” =“I don’t know”
“Faster than a snake going through a hollow log.”
“Vanished like a preacher on the day of reckoning.”
“Tighter than bark on a tree.”
“Icier than a widow’s bed in December.”

Isn’t it wonderful? I love the way these character talk. And I love how Arly hates her job and has more attitude then, um, a possum at Christmas.

Plus there’s a character named “Putter” in it!

1 comment:

mike tyner said...

I have read the maggody series and it is fantastic. Joan Hess writes a clever story that leaves me wanting more. I anxiously await the new maggody book, The Merry Wives of Maggody. It is due to be released in 2010.