Detective Constable Evan Evans and his new bride, Bronwen, are settling into married life in their little cottage above the village of Llanfair when they meet the daughter of one of the village's newest families, a sixteen-year-old Pakistani girl named Jamila. Bronwen and Jamila are becoming good friends when Jamila finds out from her parents that they have arranged a marriage for her back in Pakistan. Evans tries to convince her family not to enforce the custom, arguing that Jamila is a normal Welsh teenager, but just as the tensions increase, the girl suddenly vanishes. Bronwen is distraught, but there's no trace of her.
At work, Evans is investigating the murder of a man shot to death through the open window of his home while eating breakfast. After the man's wife is jailed as a suspect, a second man is killed---and then a third---and Evans and his team are on the hunt for a serial killer. But they can't seem to find any connections between the three men....
In the surprising climax of Edgar Award finalist Rhys Bowen's tenth Constable Evans mystery, Evans risks everything to solve the murders and discover what happened to Jamila. All in all, the novel is a triumph for fans of Bowen's acclaimed Evans series, and a wonderful discovery for new readers
In Edgar-finalist Bowen's delightful 10th novel to feature her Det. Constable Evan Evans (after 2004's Evan's Gate), the serene North Wales village of Llanfair is again roiled by intrigue and murder. Evan's worries begin when his schoolteacher wife, Bronwen, introduces him to Jamila, a London-born teenager of Pakistani descent who pleads for their help after she learns that her radical Muslim brother has persuaded their parents to take her back to Pakistan to be married. Evan has also been assigned to a new task force just as a wave of homicides spreads through the district--three men murdered, all in the same manner with the same elusive weapon. Yet the team is stumped to find a connection among any of the victims. Meanwhile, Jamila vanishes and Bronwen and Evan fear the worst. Bowen sparkles in this cleverly concocted puzzler. (Aug.)
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August 07, 2006
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Excerpt from Evanly Bodies by Rhys Bowen
It was the postman who noticed it first. As he careened down Llanfair's one and only street, half in control of his motorbike and half not, he glanced at the small row of shops to his left. The village boasted three shops and a petrol pump. First in line of shops was a butcher, g. evans, ciggyd, the Welsh word for "butcher" in large letters, and then purveyor of fine meats in tiny ones; then r. evans, dairy products. These two had been known locally for years as Evans-the-Meat and Evans-the-Milk, respectively. Only the last store in the line, t. harris, grocer and sub-post office, had spoiled the Evans's monopoly. But T. Harris was long dead, and his widow had finally given up the unequal struggle of trying to compete with the nearby Tesco's and had retired to live with her son near London. How she could want to spend her final years among foreigners had been a lively topic of discussion.
And so the corner grocery store had remained vacant for some time. The postman, yet another Evans, naturally nicknamed Evans-the-Post, had been modernized like most things in North Wales. He now made his deliveries by motorbike, enabling him to cover the outlying farms as well as the villages of Llanfair and Nant Peris. He had been riding the motorbike for at least a year now but was no nearer to mastering it. The look of wide-eyed terror in his eyes matched that of the pedestrians who were forced to scramble out of his way. One of them leaped aside now as Evans-the-Post turned to stare at what he had just seen, lost control, and almost mounted the pavement. It was Mrs. Powell-Jones, the minister's wife.
"Idiot! Fool!" Mrs. Powell-Jones shouted, as she reclaimed her dignity after the leap. "I'll call the postmaster about you! You'll end up killing somebody."
But Evans-the-Post was already well past her and out of hearing range. He finally wrestled the bike to a halt, extracted a letter from the mailbag, and loped toward the front door of a whitewashed cottage across the street. Instead of posting the letters through a perfectly good slot, however, he rapped on the door and waited until it was opened.
"Letter for you, Mrs. Williams," he said. "From your granddaughter, the one who's studying in London. She loved that jumper you knitted for her. And the bara brith you made."
The round, elderly woman smiled, not unkindly. "Thank you, Mr. Evans, although one of these days you'll find yourself in trouble if you keep on reading everyone's letters. You'll read something that's not good for you."
"I don't mean any harm," the man mumbled shyly.
"I know you don't. Go on then, off with you, or you'll be late checking in at the post office and that new postmaster will be after you."
Evans-the-Post went to leave, then swallowed hard, making a prominent Adam's apple dance up and down. "Somebody's moving into the old grocer's shop," he blurted out. "I've just seen them."
"No! Escob Annwyl! Are you sure it wasn't just the estate agent?"
"No, really moving in. I saw them doing carpentry in there, fixing things up."
"Well I never. I wonder who's taking it after all this time? I hope they're not thinking of turning it into something heathen. They turned one of the chapels in Blaenau Ffestiniog into a betting shop, you know. And remember that Frenchwoman who turned the chapel into a restaurant? I'm not surprised the Good Lord burned it down."
"A caf� wouldn't be bad," Evans-the-Post said. "Especially if they served fish and chips. We don't have anywhere to eat in the village, apart from the pub."
"Decent, God-fearing people should be eating in their own homes," Mrs. Williams said, folding her arms across a vast expanse of bosom. "I don't hold with all this eating fancy muck in restaurants. It isn't healthy. They say there's an obesity epidemic, and I say it's too much eating away from home." Since Mrs. Williams could never be described as slim, anyone else would have smiled at this remark, but Evans-the-Post nodded seriously.
Mrs. Williams leaned out her front door and peered up the street. A van was parked in front of the row of shops. Then she nodded to herself.
"I think I might make a custard today," she said, thoughtfully. "I'll just pop up to Evans-the-Milk and get an extra pint, just in case."
With that she put on her coat, tucked her basket on her arm, and started up the street. She hadn't gone far when she met Mair Hopkins on a similar journey.
"I'm putting Charlie on a diet," Mair confided, "So I thought I'd get some cottage cheese."
Together they walked in silence until they reached the shops, each knowing perfectly well the intention of the other, but each being too polite to mention it. The three shops were set back from the street on a broad stretch of pavement. The sound of hammering floated out of the former grocer's. Mair Hopkins's face lit up.
"So it's true what they were saying. There are new tenants in the corner shop. Thank the dear Lord for that. I'm that tired of having to catch the bus down the hill to Llanberis or sending Charlie out in the van when I run out of something."
"We don't know that it will be another grocer," Mrs. Williams said. "I'm just praying it won't be a betting shop, like that old chapel in Blaenau."
"A beauty parlor wouldn't be bad," Mair said. "Charlie told me it was about time I got my hair done more often."
"Well, I'd like to see the post office counter opened up again. You should see the line at the post office in Llanberis when I was there to pick up my pension."
"I know. It's terrible, just." Mair Hopkins shook her head.
The two women were about to cross the road to the shops when Mrs. Powell-Jones came flying toward them, seemingly out of nowhere, her pea green cardigan flapping as she ran.
"You've seen it then?" she said. "New people at the shop. I went in to welcome them to the village and to invite them to chapel on Sunday, as a minister's wife should, and you'll never believe it . . ."
"What?" The two women leaned closer.
"Heathens. Foreigners." Mrs. Powell-Jones almost spat out the words.
"You mean more English people?" Mrs. Williams asked. "Church not chapel?"
"Worse than that," Mrs. Powell-Jones whispered. "See for yourselves."
A man had just come out of the shop. He opened the back of the van and removed a long plank of wood. "Is this the size you wanted, Daddy?" he called.
"No, not that one, the thicker one," another voice called back, and an older man came out to join him.
"Escob Annwyl," Mrs. Williams muttered, putting her hand to her heart. The men were dark skinned, and the younger one had a beard and was dressed in a white, flowing overshirt and leggings.