This one was so disappointing, my friends. I love Patrick McManus’s books about his childhood (Real Ponies Don’t Go Oink, The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw, etc.), where he tells hilarious stories about growing up fishing and hunting and building insane little-boy inventions. When I found out that he also writes mysteries, I was psyched. He writes a series about Sheriff Bo Tully, who cowboys around his small Idaho town, hauling drunks to jail and looking for cattle rustlers. I was expecting something similar to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, but maybe even funnier. Unfortunately, there was not a lot of funny in this book.
Sheriff Tully is called in when a rare murder happens in Blight County. Then two more bodies are found, and at least one person is missing. Tully brings his father, Pap, in on the case – the old man was sheriff before him and loves a good mystery. Pap is obviously supposed to be the comic relief, but it all seems very tired. Tully interviews various townsfolk, all cliché hick stereotypes. The story comes together well, and he gives enough background to the main characters to keep them interesting, but it just wasn’t what I had been hoping for. When he’s telling his own stories, McManus’s writing just crackles. The Blight Way, however, sounds like he’s going through a ‘how to write a mystery’ seminar. Put in red herring, check. Add in love interest (or in this case, two or three), check. It’s not terrible, it’s just not inspired.
Sample uninspired dialogue:
Tully laughed. “You may be right about that.”
“Of course I am,” the old man said. “Hey, what’s that up ahead?”
“Looks like car trouble,” Tully said. “Better check it out.”
You should definitely check out Patrick McManus, just don’t let the Sheriff Bo Tully mysteries be your introduction to him. He can do better.