Avalanche: A Sheriff Bo Tully Mystery by Patrick F. McManus

One of the many talents I admire, and wish I possessed, is the ability to capture a book in a couple of sentences or a paragraph. As regular readers know, I admire the short synopsis and one or two sentence commentary that the folks at Publishers Weekly and Booklist produce (I read them at Amazon.com). I raise this rather obvious point because I want to once again commend and use just such a paragraph. This is one from Booklist and it covers Avalanche – the latest Bo Tully Mystery from Patrick McManus. Here is the entry:

Blight County, Idaho, sheriff Bo Tully, his dad, and friend Dave Perkins head to West Branch Lodge to check out a missing-person report. Mike Wilson, a co-owner of the business, stormed out of the lodge after a fight with his wife, Blanche. Tully and his dad, Pap, the lovable but corrupt former Blight County sheriff, narrowly miss being killed by an avalanche on their way to the lodge. When Mike turns up dead, Tully has a murder investigation on his hands, but he is stuck at the lodge until the road is cleared. In town, Mike’s business partner is also found dead. The partners had purchased key-man insurance, and Blanche is the beneficiary–leaving her the chief suspect. But how did she get to town with the road blocked? Quirky characters and plenty of wit enliven this folksy mystery from the author of several collections of outdoor humor.

A succinct plot summary and a one sentence description/review all in less than 150 words. Nice work! I can’t even clear my virtual throat in 150 words.

I am not sure I have much to add to that description either. That last sentences captures the book quite well. Basically, you have a police procedural set in a unique locale – a lodge in Idaho – spiced up with McManus’s wit and quirky characters. The Bo Tully books have all the trappings of a successful mystery series: a setting that provides interesting background, reoccurring and developing characters that you can get to know, and enough new characters and plot twists to keep it from getting old or overly formulaic. Avalanche hits all of these points.

Bo, Pap, Dave the Indian, and other regulars from The Blight Way are still the central characters but the details and location of the mystery are different and so are the secondary characters and/or main suspects. A good blend of the comfortingly familiar and the interestingly new is what makes these mystery series work, IMHO.

McManus captures the unique nature of the folks who live in the rural and mountainous west and they make for interesting, and humorous, characters. Bo and Pap Tully are the focus of course, but McManus often makes even the minor characters interesting. The dialog is snappy and funny and Bo’s musings on women and his relations with them are sure to bring a laugh and maybe even a nod or two.

So yeah, “Quirky characters and plenty of wit enliven this folksy mystery” is a pretty good description. Fans of McManus will snatch this one up, if they haven’t already, but anyone who enjoys a lighthearted – or “folksy” – mystery series will get a kick out of Bo Tully.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

1 Comment

  1. I’m actually kind of interested to read this one just from what I’ve read about it. I’ve not been very interested in the rest of them nor am I usually interested in crime or police fiction, but this seems to be, at least, a little more “real” and something closer to what I enjoy. I’ll be checking it out, thanks for the information! :-)

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