Mira, Dec 2001, 5.99, 384 pp.
The geriatric residents and the staff of the Valhalla Springs Retirement Community in the Ozarks as well as the citizens of Sanity, Missouri are excited over the arrival of the circus. However, the community manager Hannah Garvey turns into numbing shock when circus magician Reilly Boone introduces himself claiming to be her long lost father. He knows a lot about Hannah, but her main squeeze Sheriff David Henrickson thinks Reilly is pulling a sleight of the hand con.
The situation turns deadly when Reilly's wife and partner AnnaLeigh takes a bullet during a performance. Reilly has the motive (beneficiary of a large life insurance policy), the means (their joint act that included a gun prop), the opportunity (during a performance), and a history (two previously dead wives). Everyone except Hannah believes he killed his spouse. As Hannah sets out to prove her father could never commit murderer, her elderly charges don clown costumes to infiltrate the circus and keep their beloved manager safe.
NORTH OF CLEVER, the third Hannah Garvey “sedate” Ozarks tale, retains the wonderful wackiness of the previous novels (see EAST OF PECULIAR and SOUTH OF SANITY) due to the endearing, but ultra-eccentric ensemble. Though the story line is a romantic amateur sleuth tale, the plot is much more humorous than it is a taut suspense thriller. The characters leave readers laughing from one incident to another so that fans will impatiently await West of whatever and hopefully other in-between “due” directions on the amusing compass of Sanity.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner