Although the humor runs high in MAGGODY AND THE MOONBEAM, the story also takes a serious poke at cults and the victimization of their members. As always, the mystery is solid and any trip to Maggody is a real pleasure.

With the exception of a fire at Ruby Bees, things are unusually tranquil in Maggody, Arkansas and that sits just fine with Chief of Police Arly Hanks. Arly knows that nothing good can last, though, and she gets roped into escorting a teenage church group to a retreat at a summer camp.

Arly has her hands full. The kids have all got raging hormones and her fellow chaperones include such Maggody eccentrics as her own mother, Ruby Bee, and the out-in-left field Brother Verber. Arly expects the mix to bring trouble, but not murder.

Unfortunately, one of the teens literally trips over the body of a woman, a member of the cult called Daughters of the Moon, or Beamers. Now, in addition to problems at the camp and the usual lunacy going on in Maggody, Arly must uncover the truth behind the Beamer who got beamed up prematurely.

(Aug., 240 pp., $23.00)

Reviewed by: 
Toby Bromberg