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MULETRAIN TO MAGGODY by Joan Hess

MULETRAIN TO MAGGODY

By Joan Hess

Pub Date: Feb. 23rd, 2004
ISBN: 0-7432-2638-0
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

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.

The reenactors all have their own agendas. Jeb Stewart soaks his boots so they’ll raise authentic blisters; Andrew Pulaski dreams of cutting a fine figure on horseback; Wendell Streek pores over the diary of Henry Largesse, whose unit camped at Boone Creek, where it was overwhelmed by Yankee artillery power. But it’s Largesse’s description of the Confederate gold, hidden somewhere on Cotter’s Ridge, that piques the interest of virtually every one of the 755. Dahlia swipes her granny from the old folks’ home to guide her through the ridge’s caves. Ruby Bee Hanks and Estelle Oppers enlist the aid of backwoods delinquent Hammett Buchanon. Lottie Estes, Elsie McMay, and Eula Lemoy break into Headquarters House in Farberville looking for clues. When Lottie, along with Petrol Buchanon and Brother Verber, turns up missing, the heat’s on Ruby Bee’s pride and joy, Chief of Police Arly Hanks (Maggody and the Moonbeams, 2001, etc.), to banish her old flame, filmmaker Jack Wallace, to the backlot so she can investigate.

Enough plot and characters for a John Jakes epic. Veteran Maggody-watchers will be amused but a mite shell-shocked.