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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.). Salvation for those citizens seems to have arrived in the person of charismatic evangelist Malachi Hope, along with his manager Thomas Fratelleon, wife Seraphina, her teenage sister Chastity, and a technical crew with enough savvy to power a mega rock concert. Malachi intends to buy up scads of acreage in Maggody for a Disney-style City of Hope and is whetting the population's appetite with a week's worth of revival meetings punctuated by endless rounds of collection buckets. None of this would be of more than routine interest to Arly were it not for the murder of Norma Kay Grapper, girls' basketball coach at Maggody High and a devotee of Malachi's from ten years back when she left Topeka, Kansas. Within days, Seraphina is also found strangled, and Arly sets to work trying to make sense of it. Meanwhile, her feisty mother, Ruby Bee, and Ruby's friend Estelle do some sleuthing on their own; local preacher Brother Verber and his stalwart supporter, Mrs. Jim Bob Buchanon, fight to hold on to their congregation; Malachi's ""miracle"" cures are wreaking havoc on their recipients, and Chastity appears very much misnamed.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.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1995
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Dutton