Thursday, April 23, 2009

Patrick F. McManus: The Blight Way

Guest Review by Kit Bradley
April 23, 2009

After Nate reviewed Avalanche, another Sheriff Bo Tully mystery, I decided to read a Patrick McManus book. The Blight Way is set in Blight County, Idaho, with the action shifting between Blight City and the small town of Famine. As the story commences, Batim Scragg, a rancher more likely to be on the wrong side of the law, calls the county sheriff, Bo Tully, to inform him there is a dead body draped on one of his pasture fences. Bo picks up his dad, Pap, the former county sheriff, and the two of them drive up to Famine to investigate.

As the story unfolds, we meet each of the quirky members of the sheriff’s department, a couple ranchers, some of the unusual citizens of Famine, and we find a couple more bodies. All the victims appear to be from Los Angeles, which suggests a drug connection. But Famine, Idaho seems an unlikely hot spot for drug dealings or killings. There are just enough incidents and clues to clear up this quandary by the end of the story.

The Blight Way is not a complex mystery. A lot of the interest is in getting to know the characters. Bo Tully, in addition being the sheriff, is a fairly competent artist. He has dated pretty much every unmarried woman in town, and he is always on the lookout for newcomers. (Watch out Susan Parker, the new medical examiner up from Boise!) Pap has a different style, but he isn’t much different.

The other draw to this book and Patrick McManus in general is the wry humor. I did chuckle a few times as I read the book, “’I hear it’s better to stay lost than to have Blight County Search and Rescue find you,’ Pap said.” Well, I guess you had to be there.

In summary, the story line is interesting and comes to a reasonable but not surprising conclusion; the characters are interesting although not captivating; and the book is sort of humorous. It is a good, easy recreational read, but it’s not a book to keep on my shelf to read again in the future.

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