I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Evanly Bodies by Rhys Bowen
This cozy mystery is a hardcover edition was published by Minotaur Books on August 8, 2006 and has 210 pages.
Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.
Other books by this author include Evans Above, Evan Help Us, Evanly Choirs, Bless the Bride, The Last Illusion, Evan and Elle, Naughty in Nice, Evan Can Wait, Evans to Betsy, Evan Only Knows, Her Royal Spyness, A Royal Pain, Royal Flush, Evan's Gate, Royal Blood, Evan Blessed, Rhys Bowen, Hush Now, Don't You Cry, The Twelve Clues of Christmas, The Family Way, Heirs and Graces, Queen of Hearts, Malice at the Palace, Crowned and Dangerous
Tenth and last in the Constable Evans mystery series based in Wales and revolving around a Welsh policeman.
A clash of cultures, a seemingly unrelated series of murders, a brief glimpse into the strife at the Evanses just as Evans is promoted to a new and irritating unit at work and Bronwen is struggling to adapt to a much larger school and student population with the closure of the village school, and, lastly, the tragic perspective too many still have on spousal abuse.
It’s adjustments for both as Evans regrets the easy back-and-forth he had enjoyed with DI Watkins and DC Davies with respect held all around and his current idiot supervisor. Bronwen has a nasty commute to school now with bigger classes and a much wider disparity in achievement levels amongst the children.
On a more professional level, an unexpected intervention provides the clue which solves the greater mystery.
Three of the men on the Major Incident team quickly find out it’s more of a punishment detail, but they slog through this first murder as well as the next ones. In which Bragg quickly exposes himself as a jerk who will ride his men into the dirt and take all the credit while Evans rides to the rescue and uncovers the necessary clues which connect all the dots.
Social issues in the village arise when a Pakistani family buys the vacant grocery store and we learn a bit about the Khans’ culture. Issues which aren’t helped by the belligerent attitude taken up by Mr. Khan toward the Evanses when his daughter disappears. I did enjoy the international response to distress within a family at the end.
They’ll be needing that 4-wheel drive soon with all the trouble both Evan and Bronwen are having transporting themselves back and forth to their new cottage up the mountain — and I would suggest that Evans work on a series of paved steps to help them negotiate that slope until they can acquire such a vehicle. Luckily, Bronwen encounters Jamila Khan who helps her carry her groceries up to the cottage.
Meanwhile, there’s a new Chief Constable with new ideas that are shaking up the North Wales police. The typical shake-up — lovely ideas with not a great deal of thought put into it. He’s eager to try out his new Major Incident Teams idea which turns out to not have been so well thought out. It’s in the middle of this initial briefing that a call comes in for a murder, and the first Major Incident Team goes out: DI Bragg, DS Wingate, and DCs Pritchard and Evans.
There’s personal tragedy in the village when Jamila pours her heart out about her parents’ marriage plans for her to Bronwen who takes her own frustration out on Jamila’s parents. Rashid. Well, Rashid is a bit manic about his Muslim ideals and both the Khans and the Evanses become frantic when Jamila disappears — for different reasons. Parents can be amazingly blind.
The first murder victim for the Major Incident team is the History Chair at the University of Wales in Bangor—Professor Martin Rogers. The second is Luigi Alessi, the proprietor of Papa Luigi’s Italian restaurant. The third is Terry Owens, an unemployed machinist.
There is no commonality amongst these men except death, and it takes the observant Evans to sleuth it out.
The newlyweds, Detective Constable Evan and Bronwen Price Evans, are settling nicely into their new cottage in which Bronwen comes to learn just what Evan meant about being a policeman’s wife. DI Watkins and DC Glynis Davies have some brief encounters with Evans, particularly in regards to the missing Jamila. Watkins seems all right with Evans’ promotion while Davies is a bit shirty. The new Chief Constable Mathry is quite jolly and insisting on new uniforms for the beat police and lots of sensitivity training for everyone although Mathry could use some sensitivity himself what with his referring to DC Davies as young lady and miss! The Division Commanders include Morris, Talley, and Jones. Seems Evans was suggested for the new unit by DCI Hughes. Been showing Hughes up just a bit too much.
The first Major Incident Team consists of Detective Inspector Bragg with a name that is short for his own character — a one-sided braggart with no social skills and a penchant for humiliation; Detective Sergeant Wingate who is derided for his higher education and isn’t afraid to dish it back; Detective Constable Pritchard who is as fed up as the rest; and, of course, our DC Evans.
Azeem Khan is the father working with his son, Rashid, on renovating the interior of the grocery store they’ve just purchased in Llanfair. His wife is not well and Mr. Khan’s hope is that the peace and clean air of Llanfair will help; his daughter, Jamila, is in school
Mrs. Williams was Evans’ landlady when he first arrived in Llanfair; she’s great friends with Mair Hopkins. Both ladies are looking forward to a grocery store right in the village instead of having to take the bus into Llanberis. Mrs. Powell-Jones is the wife of one of the religious men of the village with a very firm sense of right and wrong; a right bitch she is. Mrs. Prendergast runs a shelter for battered women.
A very brief encounter at the start and the end with Llanfair’s inhabitants: Betsy and Barry-the-Bucket, Evans-the-Meat the militant Welshman who is surprisingly in favor of the Pakis, Evans-the-Post, Evans-the-Milk, and Charlie Hopkins to get their reactions to the sale.
The Cover and Title
The cover is a lovely watercolor effect of a bucolic landscape composed of two cottages set apart from each other amongst the rolling hills with a multiple-arched bridge spanning a gentle river and a panda car flashing its lights.
I can only imagine that Evanly Bodies refers to the three men murdered.