Joan Hess has produced another fun romp with her new book, Deader Homes & Garden, the latest in her Claire Malloy mystery series. Her books are always light fun reads and if they don't, at times, make you laugh they at least make you smile. And if they don't do either you need a humor transplant.
I enjoy Joan's books even more because I know the two cities on which the books are partly based: The Claire Malloy series are based, at least geographically, on Fayetteville, Arkansas where Hess lived for many years and I lived for about two years. In the books the town is called Farberville. Her other series is about Arly Hanks in a town called Maggody, which is similar to the quirky town not too far from Fayetteville called Eureka Springs.
She received a B.A. in art from the University of Arkansas in 1971 and a M.A. in education from Long Island University in 1974. Her first published novel, Strangled Prose, the start of the Claire Malloy series and her first published novel, was nominated for the Anthony Award in 1986. Mischief in Maggody, published in 1988, was nominated for the best novel.
Hess won the American Mystery Award in 1989 for A Diet to Die For. Her short stories have also won awards. She has written nearly 40 books. Hess is a member of Sisters of Crime and a former president of the American Crime Writers League.
I should admit from the outset that I have a bias here in that I'm a friend of Joan's but that story is one of the type that could come straight from her books, a sort of weird but funny coincidence:
I worked as a newspaper reporter in Northwest Arkansas for about two years and while I mostly covered Springdale, Ark. city government I would also cover other items and always made a point of attending the UFO convention in Eureka Springs so I will forever associate that city with people — albeit visitors — a bit on the kooky side.
Anyway, one day I was asked to interview an author named Joan Hess. I'd love to tell you all kinds of dirt or gossip about that interview but I have no memories of it. To my credit, this was back when I was writing 10 stories a week on average. After the interview I read a few of her books and found them witty and sharp.