In this hilarious cozy mystery, small-town police chief Arly Hanks tries to stop a right-wing militia from turning Maggody into a battlefield.
The sign welcoming travelers to Maggody, Arkansas, reads “Pop. 755,” and don’t expect Hizzoner Jim Bob to repaint it just because there’s someone new in town. The mayor won’t go out of his way for anyone, especially someone wicked—and a woman who would open a pawnshop in Maggody must be very wicked indeed. Kayleen Smeltner decided to open the shop after her husband was killed during a burglary. She came to Maggody expecting peace and quiet, but she’ll find this quaint little patch of nowhere isn’t as peaceful as it seems.
When a right-wing militia takes up residence in the pasture behind the pawnshop, police chief Arly Hanks knows it’s only a matter of time before the bullets start to fly. The strange citizens of Maggody are on the verge of civil war, and it will only take one spark to set the town ablaze.
There’s no politics like small-town politics, and there’s no town on earth like Maggody. This madcap take on right-wing militias is one of Joan Hess’s most topical—and outrageous—mysteries yet.
The Maggody Militia is the 10th book in the Arly Hanks Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
When a small town of eccentrics (Maggody, Ark., pop. 755) meets the right-wing militia, strange things are bound to happen. And in this offbeat adventure (the 10th in the series, following Miracles in Maggody), town sheriff Ariel ("Arly") Hanks seems the only calm and rational creature afoot. Arly, divorced and returned home from New York City, has had a relatively calm month issuing speeding tickets, watching for teenage miscreants and keeping an eye on her mother Ruby Bee, the garrulous and relentlessly nosy bar and motel owner (who contributes four recipes to this adventure). But a recently arrived right-wing survivalist group, led by brusque "General" Sterling Pitts, has embarked on maneuvers on property recently purchased by newcomer Kayleen Smeltner. Arly is worried about stray bulletsDafter all, it is deer hunting season. She also worries about the local bootlegger and town hermitDboth easily excited. But she is not prepared for the murder of one of the militia men, and is further disturbed when it appears he might have been an FBI informant. And does the militia have any connection to a recent spate of burglaries? Everyone gets into the act, including a hugely pregnant teenager, a lecherous preacher and two irritable ostriches. Arly, a strong-willed and straightforward woman, turns this wacky chaos into an agreeable and engrossing lark. FYI: Joan Hess, who also writes the Claire Malloy mystery series, is current president of the American Crime Writers League.