St. Martin's, March 2003, 23.95, 256 pp.
Evan Evans grew up in South Wales, but fits in fine in the North Wales town of Llanfair as the townsfolk look upon him as one of their own. That situation changes dramatically when he's ordered to assist the Ministry of Agriculture workers about to destroy the farmers' sheep in an effort to stop the spread of foot-and-mouth disease. The villagers feel that Evan should push the government to test for the disease before any animal is destroyed.
The constable decides to escape the mess by traveling with his fiancée Bronwen to meet her parents and his mom. When they reach Swansea they learn that Tony Mancino is believed to have raped and killed the daughter of a powerful big shot in the community. If he is convicted he will get life. Tony killed Evan's father. Evan talks with Tony in an effort to find closure about his father's death but he comes away from the encounter convinced the thug is innocent of this crime. After wrestling with his conscience, he decides to search for the real killer, knowing that he will incur the wrath of his mother, the police and the townsfolk, all of who want to see Tony locked away for life.
Readers who like a bloodless cerebral who-done-it that captures the essence of Wales will want to read Evan Only Knows. The protagonist believes in immediate cause and effect justice even if it means helping his father's killer gain his freedom. Rhys Bowen is a master at characterizations, so much so that readers will feel as if they really know the people of Swansea. British police procedurals don't get better than this.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner