Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Patrick F. McManus: Avalanche

For a rip-roarin’ good time, read Patrick F. McManus. I first encountered him years ago when I heard someone reading from The Grasshopper Trap on public radio. I bought the book and enjoyed it. But I could not read it out load because I would start laughing too hard. At the time, all his books were collections of outdoorsy stories that were simply hilarious.

Then a couple years ago, I found out that McManus had written a novel, The Blight Way. So I bought it; read it; loved it. Now I’ve finished Avalanche, his second novel. Sheriff Bo Tully of Blight County, Idaho, returns for a new mystery.

Mike Wilson, the owner of a fancy lodge is missing, and his wife asks Sheriff Tully to come investigate. She offers to feed and house him in the lodge during the investigation. He jumps at the case to spend a couple days in luxury. He asks his quirky tracker, Dave Perkins to meet him there. He invites Pap, his father and retired sheriff, to ride out with him. Things initially get complicated when an avalanche closes the highway behind him. No one can get in or out.

As the missing person case turns into a murder case, Tully is facing a deadline. He needs to solve the murder before the road is cleared and suspects can disperse. He gets the National Guard to fly his CSI Unit (a guy named Lurch) out to help.

Lurch seems to be afraid of most things, starting with flying, which gives McManus plenty of fodder for humor. Perkins and Pap are excellent characters to play off of Tully’s straight lines.

We have a murder, but that’s hardly important. Mostly we have outdoors misadventures and Pap, Perkins, Lurch, owner, staff, guests, and folks back at headquarters all irritating Bo Tully. Tully steps through his investigation in a very folksy but competent way. He’s sort of like a back-woods Columbo. As the mystery comes together, all the pieces fit, and the conclusions work.

Avalanche can be a bad book to read on a plane or other public place. People look at you funny when you start laughing out loud by yourself. I have no doubt that I’ll grab the next Sheriff Bo Tully mystery that I see.

1 comment:

Kit Bradley said...

Sounds like fun. I've never read a McManus book. So on the spur of the moment I ordered a used copy of The Blight Way to start off my McManus experience. I wish I lived down the street from you!