ISBN 0451404572 - You know those people who tell sort of bad jokes and find themselves wildly amusing, while all you can do is roll your eyes? That's this Joan Hess book for me. And surely someone out there finds her amusing, because someone's buying the books - but I'm just rolling my eyes.
Arly's always got her hands full in Maggody, but this Christmas things are getting a little more hectic. The town is slowly dying, but there's hope on the horizon in the person of Matt Montana, Maggody's own prodigal son. He's serving his own career and the people of Maggody would benefit from a bit of tourism... so Matt's on his way to town. The problem is that Matt's Aunt Adele has gone missing. Arly is also trying to riddle out the moving city limits sign, deal with Dahlia's jealousy and suspicions about what Kevin's up to, the return of Hammett and a myriad of other goings-on in Maggody.
Arly Hanks reminds me of Isle of Dogs, but not quite as awful. In fact, not awful at all, just... dumb. The same "this is funny, really, you should laugh" feeling runs through both books, but they're just not - to me. The characters are so stereotypical that they're miles beyond amusing and closer to stupid. If you enjoy the tongue-in-cheek style, lightly mocking the mystery genre, you're going to enjoy Hess, and fans of Arly Hanks will like the book far more than I. Hess herself gave me a quote I couldn't pass up: "Writers ...they're so goofy nobody cares what they do."