Books by Joan Hess

Joan Hess is a fifth-generation resident of Fayetteville, Arkansas (think bicycles, Girl Scouts, touch football with the guys, walking to and from school, tennis in the park, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates in junior high--all that stuff). She received


PRIDE V. PREJUDICE by Joan Hess
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: April 7, 2015

"Even a dreamboat husband and a dream house don't seem to satisfy Claire, whose sulky sense of amour-propre makes her teenage daughter, Caron, seem mature."
Bookseller Claire Malloy (Murder as a Second Language, 2013, etc.) gets pissed off at a local prosecutor. Read full book review >
MURDER AS A SECOND LANGUAGE by Joan Hess
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Dec. 17, 2013

"Claire's 19th case goes on too long, but freed from penury and domestic drudgery, she sparkles."
An Arkansas bookseller discovers the perils of literacy. Read full book review >
DEADER HOMES & GARDENS by Joan Hess
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Feb. 14, 2012

"In spite of Claire's sardonic wit and the Hollows' zaniness, Hess' latest is all too predictable, bringing sad truth to Claire's constant refrain: 'if this were a mystery novel...'"
Finding her dream house turns into a nightmare for Arkansas bookseller Claire Malloy (Damsels in Distress, 2007, etc.). Read full book review >
THE MERRY WIVES OF MAGGODY by Joan Hess
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Jan. 19, 2010

"The mystery's strictly pitch-and-putt stuff, but as always, it's the Buchanon shenanigans that are the true delight."
A golf tournament brings nothing but headaches for Maggody's rather preoccupied chief of police. Read full book review >
DAMSELS IN DISTRESS by Joan Hess
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: April 5, 2007

"Quite below average."
Bookseller Claire Malloy (The Goodbye Body, 2005, etc.) passes the time during her fiancé's visit to his mother by doing everything she can think of to annoy him. Read full book review >
MALPRACTICE IN MAGGODY by Joan Hess
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Jan. 10, 2006

"Zany as ever, Hess's latest is a sure cure for whatever ails you. "
The cure is definitely worse than the disease when shady doctors open a rehab clinic in rural Arkansas. Read full book review >
THE GOODBYE BODY by Joan Hess
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: April 18, 2005

"A deluge of puzzlement, somewhat unevenly distributed, but leavened as always by Claire's ready wit."
Claire Malloy (Out on a Limb, 2002, etc.) house-sits for a friend who turns out to be one shady lady. Read full book review >
MULETRAIN TO MAGGODY by Joan Hess
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Feb. 23, 2004

"Enough plot and characters for a John Jakes epic. Veteran Maggody-watchers will be amused but a mite shell-shocked."
Under the watchful eye of Stump County Historical Society president Harriet Hathaway, the citizens of Maggody, Arkansas (population 755, at least until Dahlia Buchanon brings her latest pregnancy to term), host a reenactment of the Skirmish at Cotter's Ridge, complete with mules, cannon, and corpses. Read full book review >
OUT ON A LIMB by Joan Hess
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Nov. 11, 2002

"A lot more antic than Claire's usual fare, though fans looking for a more successful mixture of mystery and farce should wait for Hess's next dispatch from Maggody, Arkansas, miles and worlds away from Claire's Fayetteville."
Bookseller Claire Malloy (A Conventional Corpse, 2000, etc.) knows when her daughter has a real problem and when she's just acting like a teenager. Read full book review >
MAGGODY AND THE MOONBEAMS by Joan Hess
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Aug. 1, 2001

"Even predictable Hess is fun, with smart-mouthed Arly as sassy as ever."
Under normal circumstances, wild horses couldn't induce Maggody's Chief of Police Arly Hanks (murder *************** maggody.com, 1999, etc.) to chaperone a group of hormonal teenagers from the Voice of the Lord Almighty Assembly Hall during their week-long retreat at Camp Pearly Gates. Read full book review >
A CONVENTIONAL CORPSE by Joan Hess
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: July 1, 2000

"First-rate Hess: crackling dialogue, winning characters, and an ingenious puzzle."
Perennially put-upon bookseller Claire Malloy (A Holly, Jolly Murder, 1999, etc.) is marching to an assertive new beat these days. Read full book review >
murder@maggody.com by Joan Hess
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Jan. 1, 2000

"Mary's Mead."
It looks as if, for once in his sorry life, Jim Bob Buchanon, beetle-browed mayor of Maggody, Ark. Read full book review >
MISERY LOVES MAGGODY by Joan Hess
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Jan. 26, 1999

"As even the Tunica cops admit, 'This is better than a miniseries.'"
Misery may love Maggody, Ark., but police chief Arly Hanks's mom, Ruby Bee, is itching to leave the no-horse town (pop. 755) together with her crony Estelle Oppers for a pilgrimage to Graceland, complete with stops at Elvis's birthplace in Tupelo, the Elvis museum and chapel, several Elvis souvenir shops, and a climactic dinner with entertainment provided by a bevy of Elvis impersonators. Read full book review >
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

"Clearly the best-edited annual, though not as distinctive in its choices as its latest competitor (see below)."
Regional humorist Hess (The Maggody Militia, p. 175, etc.) joins series editors Gorman and Greenberg for this sixth annual roundup. Read full book review >
THE MAGGODY MILITIA by Joan Hess
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 14, 1997

"Here, the demented militants, with their minor- key echoes of the natives' craziness, makes an offer you can't refuse."
The latest dispatch from Maggody, Ark., shows the town besieged by militant survivalists who'd be more threatening if their incompetence didn't rival the burlesque follies of the natives. Read full book review >
CLOSELY AKIN TO MURDER by Joan Hess
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: May 13, 1996

"Even Hess's trademark guffaws are only smiles this time. (Mystery Guild selection)"
A shocking wakeup call for Farberville (Ark.) bookstore owner Claire Malloy (Busy Bodies, 1995, etc., etc.)—from her cousin Ronnie Landonwood, presumed dead for 30 years after she admitted killing Hollywood director Oliver Pickett in Acapulco, and now threatened by a blackmailer who's going to expose her all over again. Read full book review >
MIRACLES IN MAGGODY by Joan Hess
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 1, 1995

"It's pretty much the mixture as before, but Hess's legion of fans won't complain: Maggody's a funny, warm-hearted retreat from a cold, hard world."
Once more into the fray with Arly Hanks—divorced, onetime big-city dweller, now chief of police in Maggody, Arkansas, home to a whole passel of off-the-wall citizens (Martians in Maggody, etc.). Read full book review >
BUSY BODIES by Joan Hess
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: June 19, 1995

"Die-hard fans may accept the frenetic plotting; others will direct heartfelt sympathies to Lieutenant Peter Rosen."
Farberville, Ark., home to Claire Malloy (Tickled to Death, 1994, etc.)—queen of the busybodies, owner of the local bookstore, and mother of wearing teenager Caron—is agog over the antics of bankable Houston artist Zeno Gorgias. Read full book review >
MARTIANS IN MAGGODY by Joan Hess
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 9, 1994

"Even if the Maggody formula—a murder plot and principals from outside, uninterrupted comic relief from regulars too lovable in their cunning stupidity to be suspects—isn't as fresh as it once was, this installment is certified merriment. (Author tour)"
Hess, whose recent chronicles of Maggody (O Little Town of Maggody, 1993, etc.), Ark., have tended to import visitors who made the zany locals act even zanier, strikes a rich lode of lunacy when a mysterious limo marks the advent of a series of UFO sightings and an otherworldly pattern of circles pressed into the cornfield of moonshiner Raz Buchanon, of one the seedier branches of Maggody's First Family. Read full book review >
TICKLED TO DEATH by Joan Hess
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: May 16, 1994

"There's more, much more, in this quagmire of a plot, bogged down with paper-thin characters, heavy-handed whimsy, a denouement that defies belief, and a heroine who grows ever more unappealing. (Author tour)"
A ninth adventure for Farberville's nosy bookstore owner Claire Malloy (Poisoned Pins, 1993, etc.). Read full book review >
O LITTLE TOWN OF MAGGODY by Joan Hess
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Nov. 16, 1993

"A fast, funny, amiably sardonic look at the forces behind the myths of stardom—and a marvelous treat for Maggody fans (Maggody in Manhattan, etc.)."
The zany citizens of Maggody, Arkansas, now in the grip of a recession, meet the mostly messed-up performers and handlers of the C&W music world when small-time record company executives Pierce and Ripley Keswick decide to polish the tarnished image of their hard-drinking mega-star Matt Montana. Read full book review >
POISONED PINS by Joan Hess
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: April 12, 1993

"Amiable but often dull fare."
Adventure #8 for Farberville's bookstore owner Claire Malloy (Death by the Light of the Moon, etc.), widowed mother of teenager- from-hell Caron and sometime lover of police lieutenant Peter Rosen. Read full book review >
MAGGODY IN MANHATTAN by Joan Hess
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Sept. 25, 1992

"Die-hard fans will probably love it."
Arly Hanks, Police Chief of Maggody, Arkansas, is forced out of her sleepy everyday routine after Ruby Bee, her diner-owner mom, wins a trip to New York as a finalist in the Krazy Koko-Nut cooking contest. Read full book review >
DEATH BY THE LIGHT OF THE MOON by Joan Hess
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: March 9, 1992

"Whimsy-laden, mildly entertaining, mediocre Hess."
Echoes of Arsenic and Old Lace flutter through this chronicle of the eccentric Malloys of Louisiana. Read full book review >
MORTAL REMAINS IN MAGGODY by Joan Hess
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Oct. 18, 1991

"Some sly, funny barbs at Hollywood pretensions enliven the familiar foibles of Maggody's goofy citizens—and provide another cheerful chapter in this lighthearted series."
Fans of the Hess stories set in Maggody, Arkansas (Strangled Prose, etc.), will readily conjure up the potential for havoc when a sleazy Hollywood crew arrives to film Wild Cherry Wine, another of their not-so-soft-porn productions. Read full book review >
ROLL OVER AND PLAY DEAD by Joan Hess
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: July 25, 1991

"Of special interest to dedicated animal-lovers."
Farberville's bookstore-owner/occasional sleuth Claire Malloy (A Diet to Die For, etc.) has consented to care for Emily Parchester's African violets and basset hounds, Nick and Nora, while Emily takes a trip. Read full book review >
MADNESS IN MAGGODY by Joan Hess
Released: Jan. 11, 1990

Another jolly episode in the life and times of fey-filled Maggody, Arkansas (Strangled Prose, etc.), where Arly Hanks is police chief and her mother Ruby Bee runs the local bar and grill. Read full book review >