Not content with her recent foray from her estimable Jack Caleb/John Thinnes series into historical fantasy (The Cymry Ring, 2006), Dymmoch pushes into Joan Hess territory with this rollicking tale of murder, moonshine and madcap law enforcement.
It all starts when Boone County Deputy Sheriff Ajax (Homer) Deters hears that Ash Jackson has run Roger Devon, a lay brother from the Pine Ridge Mission, out of town because he thinks the missionary has designs on one of his students, Ash’s 16-year-old cousin Angie Boone, a girl so sweet Ash wants her himself. Visiting shamus John Peter fails to turn up any trace of Roger Devon, but there are developments. Ash disappears along with Angie. Soon after ATF agent George Arnold turns up looking for Ash, he vanishes as well. You’d think that the discovery of two corpses, one in Goode Swamp, the other on the Boone farm, would clarify things, but neither can be identified. Homer consults by turns with moonshiner Rye Willis, pretty postmistress Nina Ross and Sheriff Ben Rooney, rendered virtually speechless by a stroke that didn’t prevent his reelection. Before he can figure out who’s dead and who’s merely missing, a traffic accident frees 500 chickens and one Bengal tiger, and somebody steals a state trooper’s unlocked cruiser.
Dymmoch handles this farcical crime wave with down-home warmth and humor. Just don’t get too hopeful that it’ll all hang together.