Having read and loved ‘Murder and Mayhem’ I was a bit concerned that the details of the first book would not be as fresh in my memory as I’d like them to, but soon enough I felt at home in Goose Pimple Junction, a charming Southern town, with a gorgeous bookshop (that features less centrally in this book than in the first one), a diner with one of the most entertaining couples I’ve met in any books (and fab descriptions of foods), a new chief of police (and very dashing), and a mystery or two. I was happy to revisit two of the main characters in the first story, the two writers, Jack and Tess, and see how their romance was progressing, although this time the mysteries centre around Martha Maye and her estranged and fairly narcissistic husband, Lenny, and some odd robberies.
My impression is that a reader who hadn’t read the first book in the series would be able to follow this novel, although would probably feel intrigued, as there are several times when the events of the first novel are referred to without giving many details.
I enjoyed the Southern proverbs and use of dialect as much as I did the first time around, although like everything that’s quirky and adds to the atmosphere rather than the plot, it might not be to the taste of all readers.
If I had to compare it to the first novel in the series, I’d say ‘Heroes and Hooligans’ is a much easier read, as there are no different time frames or stories taking place in different historical periods. There are also fewer characters being truly involved in the case and the family connections are far less complicated, although I think that added to the texture and experience of the first one. The two main characters, Johnny, the new chief of police, and Martha Maye, are easy to like, and in the case of Martha Maye due to the family connections and our previous knowledge she feels very familiar. We don’t know much about Johnny other than he is besotted with Martha Maye, but he plays the hero part with aplomb, and seems perfectly matched with her. I still felt closer to Tess and Jack, but I always like writer characters.
On the side of the hooligans, Lenny is thoroughly creepy and unlikeable as I already mentioned I think he fits into the category of narcissist too. His brother is a strange character, somewhat more complex than Lenny and the murderer… Although there are some clues, who the guilty party is, is far from evident. (And I won’t spoil the mystery).
The two mysteries and the secondary characters (Pickles and his T-shirts, Martha Maye’s fabulous family, including the fantastic Lou and her aunt), the fabulous titles of songs and the Oktoberfest (that easily rivals the 4th of July celebrations of the first novel, if not surpasses it) will give most readers the right amount of intrigue and humour and will keep them coming back for more, as will the quality of the writing.
A fun, light read, full of unforgettable characters. I’m eagerly waiting for the third novel.