Book Review: Rhys Bowen’s Evan and Elle

Posted October 8, 2011 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

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.

Book Review: Rhys Bowen’s Evan and Elle

Evan and Elle


Rhys Bowen

cozy mystery that was published by Berkley Prime Crime on March 1, 2001 and has 212 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Evans Above, Evan Help Us, Evanly Choirs, Bless the Bride, The Last Illusion, 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, Evanly Bodies, 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, On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service

Fourth in the Constable Evans mystery series set in a small village in Wales.

My Take

I love this series. It has such a lovely, homey feel to it with everyone knowing everyone else’s business with such a nice continuity to it. Evans enjoying a pint in the pub with others in the village. The hazards of the village telegraph. Yes, it is simplistic but I do appreciate the smooth segues from one scene to another and one conversation to another.

In Evan and Elle, the results of the French cooking class so many of the ladies take is too funny with a much too obvious way to fix it! The weekly war between the Rev. Parry Davies and the Rev. Powell-Jones using their church billboards in a game of one-upmanship. And I’ve always fantasized about remodeling a church into a home…although, in this case, it’s a French restaurant.

I do have to wonder though about a woman purposely setting a fire after she’s barely survived another. Then there’s the many opportunities ignored by Evans: no mention the effect the customer has on Madame Yvette at the restaurant and all the cops seem to accept everything she says about her past until they finally start looking into it.

The Story

One arson fire after another has Evans frustrated especially when Peter Potter — oops, sorry, that’s Sergeant Potter to you! — is on the case. Potter’ll show these backcountry idjits how to solve crime. If they would just snap to and show some initiative…!

The notes left behind seem to indicate a nationalist bent behind the fires but when they torch a new French restaurant in the valley…well, none of the constabulary can help but wonder if there’s a tie-in between the new restaurant and the drug smuggling coming in through the harbors.

The Characters

I do enjoy Bowen’s Constable Evan Evans. He’s both naïve and wise depending upon the subject. Clueless about women and what he wants and yet with a sharp eye for crime and human nature. And completely torn between wanting to take on more authority in solving crimes and enjoying the mountains around the village in which he’s based. Well, that, and…

Bronwen Price is a local schoolteacher and very much attached to Evan Evans. She is also torn between a maturity beyond Evans’ and yet insecure as to where she stands with him.

Mrs. Williams is Evans’ landlady with an eye to matching him up with her daughter as well as keeping him well fed…I do get such a hankering for lamb any way that Mrs. Williams cooks it after reading…

Detective Inspector Hughes seems to be a bit more accepting of Constable Evans…actually inviting him to take part in some of the bull sessions…who knew… We’ll have to see if this keeps up.

Madame Yvette has quite a few questions to answer and hasn’t been doing so well with them. Nor is she such a very nice lady as both Evans and the ladies who took her class can attest.

The Cover and Title

The cover is oddly lit. It’s that kind of day when the sky is dark yet a brilliant shaft of light illuminates all bringing in a sharp delineation of a lovely stone church in the foreground, a village nestled in the middle, and Evans’ beloved mountains in the background.

The title is so perfect! Evan is in Elle. Or, at least, Yvette Boudreaux would like him there. The hell part is of his own making — attracted to other women, frustrated with his lowly position in the police force…whatever will Evan bach do??