Book Review: Rhys Bowen’s Evan’s Gate

Posted November 9, 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.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Book Review: Rhys Bowen’s Evan’s Gate

Evan's Gate


Rhys Bowen

cozy mystery in Paperback edition that was published by Berkley on April 5, 2005 and has 304 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, Evan and Elle, Naughty in Nice, Evan Can Wait, Evans to Betsy, Evan Only Knows, Her Royal Spyness, A Royal Pain, Royal Flush, 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

Eighth in the Constable Evans mystery series set in Wales and revolving around a bright young policeman lacking the time to hike as much as he was used to.

In 2005, Evan’s Gate was nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel.

My Take

I do so enjoy this series. Bowen has created a small cast of colorful characters whose lives move forward and every once in awhile, they look back as Evan does in this installment. This particular story revolves around two young 5-year-old-ish girls. One went missing 25 years ago; the other a few hours ago.

There is an introspective air to this story as Bowen examines today’s issues of custody battles along with the emotional issues of blame and guilt that affect a family for the rest of their lives. The unfairness of taking the trauma of losing one child out on a child who is still there. There is something to be said for therapy! Everyone could have led much easier lives if they had all deal with their guilt instead of shoving it off on each other.

A nice bit of tongue-in-cheek humor with Evans’ encounters with Pilcher as it embodies the age-old frustration of bureaucracy as Evans struggles to hold in his anger with the idiot. I did enjoy Owens-the-Sheep’s retort there at the end! I betcha anything the idiot seriously considered Owens’ remark!

The Story

A five-year-old girl is stolen from a beach while her mother fetched cigarettes from her vacation caravan and the Welsh police pile it on from flyers to NCIS, media alerts to Interpol in their efforts to find the young girl. In the midst of all this, Evans must get on with rebuilding the old cottage if he and Bronwen are to move in the end of August. Now, it turns out, he has to have the water and sewage pipes inspected.

Well, Evans sets to with a will to unearth those pipes, but he unearths a lot more than just water lines when he finds the skeleton of a young child laid atop those pipes. Speculation reminds Evans of a missing girl, a childhood friend of his, who went missing 25 years ago. A little girl who looks very like this latest missing girl.

Coincidentally, it’s also been 25 years since her family members have visited the grandfather’s farm just over the hill.

The Characters

Detective Constable Evans now. Yup, Evans got his promotion and he’s wondering if it was the right decision as it has been a long while since he’s had any time to hike into the mountains either by himself or with Bronwen Price, his schoolteacher fiancée. We don’t see much of Betsy Edwards, the barmaid, or her new bloke, Barry-the-Bucket. Owens-the-Sheep has his complaints to make — seems that Parks Authority fellow came snooping around his place and doesn’t like the improvements Owens made to his barn. Mrs. Powell-Jones has her complaints to make about the rival chapel in Llanfair; their Biblical sayings war is still going strong although this installments offerings were a bit weak.

Detective Inspector Watkins is feeling his promotion as well; as Evans points out, he’s morphing into DCI Hughes! Detective Glynis Davies is their computer whiz.

Shirley Sholokhov is the distraught mother whose daughter, Ashley, is taken from a beach at a caravan park. Ashley has recently had a heart transplant; she also looks remarkably similar to Sarah. It takes a while, but eventually she confesses to the police that she thinks her husband, a Russian immigrant, may have taken Ashley. The family who lost Sarah 25 years ago includes Hugh Bosley-Thomas, the father; Henry, the brother and a solicitor whose wife, Camilla, refuses to have children because she doesn’t trust her husband; Suzanne, the sister and the failure of the family, the one everyone blamed for surviving; Val Thomas, a cousin and a famous artist whose work reflects the trauma; Nick Thomas, another cousin who is now a Roman Catholic priest who lives in Canada; and, Tomos Thomas, the grandfather from whose farm she went missing.

Mr. Pilcher is the asshole from the Parks Authority whose approval Evans must have if he’s to be let rebuild old Rhodri’s cottage. Personally, I think Pilcher is a fusspot who likes Council flats for himself and doesn’t understand anyone who wants something unique! Daft Dai is a well-known fixture in the area particularly well-known for confessing to everything so he can enjoy a cup of tea and a biscuit at the station.

The Cover and Title

The cover is not in one of my favorite styles. I suspect the ruined stone walls are Evans’ new cottage where one of the bodies was found, a sheep dog poised with an eye to us, a mountain rising up behind with what looks like a door opening from out of the mountain with a mounted big cat’s head with a ring in its nose — a door knocker?? — with what appears to be a flag waving in the upper right corner. The pole slanting across the dog could be a shepherd’s staff or the handle for a shovel.

I don’t really know what Evan’s Gate refers to.