Monday, May 10, 2021

REVIEW: Evan's Gate (book) by Rhys Bowen

Evan's Gate is the eighth book in Rhys Bowen's Constable Evans Mysteries series. I bought my copy used.


Evan is in the process of trying to get approval to fix up an old shepherd's cottage for himself and his fiancee, Bronwen, when he gets a call about a missing little girl. Did the child wander off, or was she abducted by her father? While pursuing multiple possibilities, Evan stumbles across the body of another little girl, and possibly a further complication to his ongoing missing child case.

I first started this series many years ago and by all rights should have finished it by now. It's only ten books long, and I've generally enjoyed each book I've read. It's got a nice sense of place, and Evan is generally likeable. But for some reason I only dip my toes into this series once every few years, and I've been doing it all out of order. I've read the first, fifth, and tenth books. It's a bit of shame, since one of the appeals of this series is that Bowen actually allows Evan's life to change from one book to the next, instead of forcing him to wallow in an unending love triangle for all eternity (while I like M.C. Beaton's Hamish Macbeth books, the eternal love triangle is part of the reason why it's been years since I last read one of them).

In this book, Evan is engaged to Bronwen and is still mentally adjusting to the idea that he's going to be married soon. He also has new responsibilities at work and is still adjusting to the effect that this has on his personal life and overall free time.

Evan gets a bit emotionally knotted up over the connections he sees between the current missing child case and the little girl who went missing 25 years ago, who he was friends with and used to play with. He can't shake the idea that the two cases are related, and the personal connection makes it harder for him to be objective.

I didn't think Evan handled things as well as he could have, which would have been fine if there had been actual consequences for some of his actions. Even he was aware that his focus on the potential connection between the two cases was pushing him to do stuff his boss wouldn't necessarily approve of, and his actions near the end of the book could have gotten him killed. At the very least, he should have gotten a reprimand.

The ending wasn't very satisfying. To be fair, I don't think it was meant to be - the characters were 25 years too late to do anything about the one girl, and there were very few things Bowen could have done about the other girl that wouldn't have come across as saccharine.

All in all, it was an okay read and I'm sure I'll pick up another Constable Evans mystery at some point, but I wasn't left feeling like I absolutely needed to read another book in the series right now. This really is more of a "comfortable occasional reading" series for me than anything, I guess.

Oh, and don't get too excited about the dog on the cover. Although there is indeed a dog in the story, it only appears maybe once or twice and doesn't play an important part.

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