Evans Above (Constable Evans Series #1)

Evans Above (Constable Evans Series #1)

by Rhys Bowen

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Overview

THE FIRST CONSTABLE EVANS MYSTERY!

Constable Evan Evans expected the idyllic Welsh village of Llanfair to be a calm oasis far away from the violent crime of the big city—until a string of murders puts every charming eccentric under suspicion...

Little Llanfair has its share of characters—two ministers vying for the souls of their flock, one lascivious barmaid, and three other Evanses: Evans-the-Meat, Evans-the-Milk, and Evans-the-Post.

But before Evan—now knows as Evans-the-Law—can enjoy Llanfair's tranquillity, he's called to the scene of a crime as brutal as any in the big city. Two hikers have been murdered on the trails of the local mountain, and now Evan must hunt down a vicious killer in a town where one of his lovable new neighbors could prove to be deadly...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425166420
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/01/1998
Series: Constable Evans Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 59,789
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.80(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Rhys Bowen, a New York Times bestselling author, has been nominated for every major award in mystery writing, including the Edgar®, and has won many, including both the Agatha and Anthony awards. She is the author of the Royal Spyness Mysteries, set in 1930s London, the Molly Murphy Mysteries, set in turn-of-the-century New York, and the Constable Evans Mysteries, set in Wales. She was born in England and now divides her time between Northern California and Arizona.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

The sound of singing rose up from the little village of Llanfair, nestled high on the pass between the great peaks of Glyder Fawr and Yr Wyddfa. On the green slopes above, sheep looked up, momentarily startled by the burst of sound, then went back to their grazing, their wool tinged pink by the setting sun.

Guide me, oh Thou great Jehova Pilgrim in this barren land ...

The words of that favorite old Welsh hymn, Cwm Rhonda, resounded around Chapel Bethel as only Welsh voices can sing it. If Chapel Bethel had rafters instead of polystyrene tiles, the hymn would have definitely have made them ring.

Only one person was not joining in lustily. A tall young man with the broad shoulders of a rugby forward and a fresh, likeable face, was only mouthing the words.

I am weak, but Thou art mighty Feed me with Thy willing hand.

Evan Evans was a constable with the North Wales police force, currently assigned to the village of Llanfair. He could feel the familiar flush rising at the back of his neck and spreading over his fair-skinned Celtic face. He knew it was stupid to be troubled by something that had happened so many years ago, but he couldn't help it. Every time they sang that particular hymn in chapel he was back in the assembly hall at Llanelli Road County Primary School, standing in the front row of top class boys and hearing the giggles behind him as two hundred young voices sang the chorus.

Bread of 'eaven Bread of 'eaven Feed me till I want no more ...

Sang the worshippers in Chapel Bethel now. P.C. Evans could almost feel the digs in his back and hear the giggles and whispered comments: "What kind of bread have you got for us today then, Evan boy? Crusty, is it?"

He had only just arrived at the Llanelli Road school, a skinny, undersized kid of ten, fresh from the mountains of North Wales and no match for the tough dockland boys at his new school. Every time they sang that hymn Evan Evans cursed his parents for giving him such a stupid name. Now he was a grown man, liked and respected, and pretty handy with his fists too when needed, but that hymn still had the power to make him feel uncomfortable.

He could almost hear the taunts now. He was sure of it. Someone was whispering behind him. Any second now, someone was going to dig him in the back and whisper, "What kind of bread then, Evan bach?"

At last the desire to turn around proved too strong. He glanced back and saw two men standing by the side entrance. One of them was old Charlie Hopkins, the usher, and he was pointing directly at Evan. The other man looked familiar, but Even couldn't place him right away. He was middle-aged but fit-looking. His face was tanned but his age was betrayed by hair graying at the sides and combed across to hide a bald spot. He was dressed in a large polo-necked Nordic sweater and cords. As Evan stared at him in surprise, Charlie Hopkins beckoned furiously for him to come over.

Evan glanced around then tiptoed toward the door. Charlie Hopkins grabbed his arm and whispered in his ear, "They've been and gone and done it again, Constable Evans."

Evan stepped out into the summer twilight. Here, between tall peaks, the sun set early. "Done what?" he asked, looking for help to the stranger who stood beside Mr. Hopkins.

"One of they climbers, that's what," Mr. Hopkins said. "Got himself stuck on Yr Wyddfa again." He called the mountain that the English knew as Snowdon by its Welsh name, even though he addressed Evan in English because of the stranger.

"Not again!" Evan said, raising his eyes in despair. "How many weeks has it been since we had a Sunday without a rescue call, eh, Charlie? What's happened this time?" He looked inquiringly at the stranger, trying to place him.

"This is Constable Evans, major," Charlie said. "He leads our little rescue squad. He's quite an expert climber."

"Really?" The man couldn't have sounded less impressed.

"You know Major Anderson, don't you, Evan boy?" Charlie said. "He's the manager at the Everest Inn up the valley. You know the place I'm talking about, don't you?"

Evan gave the major a friendly grin. "It would be hard not to know it, wouldn't it? Takes up half the valley, doesn't it?" Privately he thought it was one of the ugliest buildings he had ever seen. He had never understood the reasoning behind building a Swiss chalet in the middle of Wales. It had opened only the season before, just after Evan himself had arrived in Llanfair, and its guests had kept the village mountain rescue team busy ever since.

But Evan kept his thoughts to himself. He thrust out a big hand. "How do, Major Anderson. Yes, we have met before. Got a climber in trouble again, have you, major? Why don't you teach those climbers of yours how to climb before you let them loose on the mountains?" He had meant it as a good-natured tease, but he saw the smile fade from the major's face.

"Rather worrying, what?" Major Anderson said in a throaty, upper-class English voice. "These chappies always say they know how to climb. Set off with all the right equipment and they always underestimate our Welsh mountains. Think they're not like the Alps or Himalayas, eh, what?" Evan managed to keep the annoyance from his face. He remembered his last encounter with the major clearly now. He'd been called in to investigate the theft of a diamond and the major had been obnoxiously patronizing, calling him "My dear chappy" and implying that a mere village constable wasn't up to the job. Like most people in Wales, Evan didn't have much time for people who went around giving themselves airs and calling themselves major when they weren't in the army any more ... or who referred to the mountains as "our Welsh mountains" when he probably hadn't a drop of Welsh blood in him.

Evan gave the major a congenial smile. "Funny, isn't it? There must be a lot of people who can't tell our mountains from the Alps. The people who built your inn, for example. It's a wonder they don't have you wearing short leather trousers and showing your knees."

"Ah, quite. Yes. Ha-ha. Most amusing," the major said.

Evan remembered with some satisfaction that the major had called again, later that same night, to say that the guest had found her missing diamond, hidden in the toe of her fuzzy slippers, where she had put it for safekeeping. He hadn't apologized.

Evan put on his most efficient manner as he turned to the major. "So you've had a message that one of your climbers is in trouble?" Evan asked. "Got himself stuck on Crib Goch, has he?"

"No message," Major Anderson said. "Just hasn't come back down, that's all. Set off after breakfast this morning and nobody's seen him since."

Evan looked up at the dark outline of the Snowdon range, silhouetted against a silver sky dotted with pink clouds. Wisps of cloud clung in the gullies like sheep wool caught on a fence.

"It's not even dark yet," he said. "Give him time. He was probably enjoying the sunset. Beautiful day, wasn't it? I was up there myself, earlier today. Did you know there's a red kite's nest with babies in it? That's good news, isn't it? Haven't seen one of them for years."

"Er, quite." Major Anderson cut him off. "But to get back to the point, constable. I wouldn't have come to you if I wasn't concerned."

"He was definitely planning to come back to you tonight, was he then?" "Oh yes, definitely," Major Anderson said. "He told the staff he'd be in for dinner."

"And you think he was planning to go climbing, not just walking?"

Major Anderson sucked his teeth as he thought. "I couldn't actually say," he admitted. "He asked for the easiest way up Snowdon and said he was meeting a friend up there. But he was wearing pretty decent boots and he did have a pack. So maybe he was planning to do some climbing with his friend, once he was up there."

"There you are then," Evan said. "He met the friend and they decided to go down another way together. Probably went down on the railway to Llanberis. Like as not they're having a drink there now and the friend will run him back here later in his car."

"But he said he'd dine here," Major Anderson said patiently, as if Evan was a slow two-year-old. "And he knows that dinner is at seven o'clock sharp. He'd need time to change, wouldn't he? We have a very strict dress code in the dining room."

"Maybe he's changed his mind," Evan suggested. "People are allowed to change their minds, you know." He turned to wink at Charlie. "It's not the army, is it?" A spasm of a frown crossed the major's face. "Obviously you don't share

my concern, constable. I have my hotel to think of. People stranded on the mountain are bad publicity for us. Rescues always seem to make the TV news, don't they? If he's stuck up there, I want him brought down right away."

"Hold on a minute," Evan said, putting a calming hand on the major's shoulder. "If the gentleman was going up the Pig Track or the Miners' Track, straight to the top of Snowdon, he'd have been on a well-travelled route. If he'd hurt himself, or got himself into trouble, we'd have heard about it. There's nowhere on that route that he could have got himself stuck, is there? Like a bloody great motorway, isn't it? And just as well travelled."

He found himself thinking back to his early childhood spent among these mountains and to the happy days with his grandfather up in the high country. In those days it seemed that it was just the two of them, alone on the roof of the world, sometimes in the clouds, sometimes above them, with eagles soaring below their feet.

But now it was hard to find a place of solitude, even for someone like Evan who knew these mountains like the back of his hand. Most frequently he'd be settled and sunk into contemplation when laughter and loud voices on the path below would announce the arrival of another group of tourists. They'd stagger up the path, often clad in the most unsuitable clothes — shorts and T-shirts — no foul weather gear in case the cloud came in, sandals or city shoes, videotaping as they went. It was all a big lark to them. They had no idea that a storm could roll in and blow them off the path with gale force winds, or that the cloud could come down and blot out the way back, that one step off the path could lead to destruction, and that a night on the mountains could finish them off.

"Give him until morning, major," he said, drawing his mind back to the present problem. "I can't have my lads missing their chapel over every climber who comes back late, can I? Likely as not you'll have heard from him by morning. I'd wager your boy shows up late for dinner, or gives you a ring from Llanberis. And if he is stranded up there for the night ... well, it's not going to be too cold, is it and he could always make for the kiosk and shelter there. It might teach him a lesson about taking our Welsh mountains more seriously."

He smiled at the major. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to chapel. I don't want to miss the reverend Parry Davies' sermon. Heard about him, have you? He's a famous orator. Goes to the eisteddfods every year and wins prizes, and gives powerful good sermons — all hellfire and damnation. You can almost smell the brimstone. The Reverend Powell-Jones has had to have double glazing put on his windows."

His gaze drifted across the street to the other chapel, Beulah, where the Reverend Powell-Jones was conducting his own evening worship. He made up for his lack of Parry Davies' power of oratory by giving his sermons in Welsh and then in English. Since this took well over an hour, his congregation was considerably smaller than Bethel's — mainly old women who had grown up as Welsh speakers and ardent nationalists. Still, it was hard to compete against Bethel's added advantage: A footpath behind it that led to the back door of the Red Dragon.

Even though all the pubs in Wales were now officially allowed to open on Sundays, Llanfair was one of those pockets of religious righteousness where Sunday drinking was still outwardly frowned upon, and the front door of the pub remained firmly shut to strangers. The back door, however, was open to admit regular customers, which was why most of the men of Llanfair attended evening services at Chapel Bethel.

"Do I understand that you're refusing to do anything to help?" the major blustered. "I'm going to have a word with your superiors about this."

"When I get word that someone's in trouble, then I'll be all too willing to help, major," Evan said. "So will all the lads in the village. But we're all volunteers, you know. We can't go wandering all over the mountains looking for someone who might not even be up there by now. It's going to be dark soon and I can't risk losing one of my lads over a cliff, can I? Look, why don't you call me in the morning if he hasn't shown up. But right now God and Mr. Parry Davies are calling, if you don't mind."

The major strode off, muttering, "Oh, this is absurd. Completely useless. Village idiots, the lot of them ..."

Charlie Hopkins turned back to Evan with an apologetic shrug. "You don't suppose we should have gone, do you, Evan bach? That's the type who likes to make trouble. Got friends in high places."

Evan scowled at the major's disappearing back. "If he had friends in the right sort of high places," he said pointing up at the silhouette of the mountain, "then they could bloody well look for his missing climber themselves and leave us in peace."

Charlie Hopkins chuckled and reluctantly Evan laughed, too. "I'm sorry, Charlie, but that man gets my goat. Barkin' orders as if he was still in the army. We're only volunteers, after all. Nobody pays us to go traipsing over mountains, ruining our good shoes and missing our chapel."

Mr. Hopkins dug Evan in the side. "Don't let me keep you then, constable," he said. "You'll be wanting to get back for the rest of the sermon, I don't doubt."

He winked at Evan.

"After you, Mr. Hopkins," Evan said, giving him a little shove in the direction of the chapel door. "You're the usher. You have to be there to collect the hymn books, don't you?"

Mr. Hopkins looked at the chapel door and then let his gaze wander further down the street to where the Red Dragon pub sign was swinging in the evening breeze. "They all know where the hymn books go," he said. "And it sounds like the Reverend Parry Davies is cutting it short tonight. He must be as thirsty as we are. No sense in going back in there just for one last hymn, is there? Might as well get our orders in first next door." He nudged Evan again. "Give you a chance to be alone in the pub for a while with you know who."

His lean body shook with silent laughter.

Evan sighed. Ever since he had come here a year ago, the entire valley had tried its best to play matchmaker. Betsy, the barmaid in the Red Dragon, had made no secret of the fact that she fancied Evan.

"Get away with you now, Charlie," Evan said, flushing with embarrassment. "Betsy's a nice girl and all that but not exactly my type, you know."

"You could do worse, Evan boy." Charlie chuckled. "I hear she's ready, willing, and very able."

"That's the trouble, Charlie," Evan said with a grin. "She's too ready and too willing. If I so much as say hello to her, she takes it as encouragement. She's always on about taking her dancing in Caernarfon."

"And what's wrong with that?" Charlie asked.

Evan shook her head. "You've never seen me dance," he said. "They tell me I look like a dying octopus. Besides, I'm not ready to get involved with anybody yet. Only just got here, haven't I?"

He had his back to the street and hadn't heard anyone coming, so he jumped when a soft voice said, "Good evening, Constable Evans. Not in chapel tonight, I see?"

Evan spun around to see a slim young woman smiling at him. She was dressed in khaki pants and a linen shirt. A dark green sweater was draped around her neck and brought out the green in her eyes. Her hair hung down her back in one lustrous braid. As always Evan felt tongue-tied in her presence.

"Good evening, Bronwen Price," Evan stammered. "I see you're not in chapel yourself either."

Bronwen took in Evan's jacket and tie. He must have been intending to go to chapel anyway, she thought. He wasn't the kind of person who wore a jacket when he didn't have to. Usually he was the old-jeans-and-sweater type. Out of uniform he looked quite handsome, she thought. She liked the way his dark hair flopped down boyishly across his forehead when he wasn't wearing his policeman's cap.

"I've just got back from an all-day hike," she said. "Did you know that a red kite is nesting up there now? Isn't that wonderful news?"

"Up above Llyn Llydaw? I saw it myself," Evan said, his face lighting up.

"You did?" Bronwen looked surprised. "When were you up there?"

"Earlier today."

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Evans Above"
by .
Copyright © 1997 Rhys Bowen.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Rhys Bowen

Welcome to Llanfair -- a tiny Welsh village with lots of local color...and a hint of crime.

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Evans Above (Constable Evans Series #1) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Luvmyangels More than 1 year ago
This was a great read and I recommend it to anyone who loves the light read mysteries. They're clean, fun and bring you back to simple times or simple places. I love all of Rhys Bowen's books. Unfortunately, for the Evans Series, book 2 and 3 are not available on Nook.
GrayoneJC More than 1 year ago
Taking place in Wales around Mt. Snowdon, story provides suspense and humor along with dramatic scenes of local geography. Nicely written for quick read.
Jade_cat_mom More than 1 year ago
Loved this. Just wish some of the other early titles were available NEW
Lisan_48 More than 1 year ago
Rhys Bowen is a wonderful author. Her stories are suspenseful, energetic, and imaginative. And when you get to the end, you want more. I highly recommend all her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This could be the start of an easy to read series, Albeit short in pages, it has some interesting and fairly well developed characters.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Good read. Fun characters.
Anonymous 9 months ago
This was book was a good first mystery. The main character, Police Constable Evan Evans is likeable. I look forward to reading more in this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Entertaining.
pennykaplan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in postwar Britain, Mrs. Hawkins lives in a boarding house and is a plump war widow who works in publishing. Filled with eccentric characters, the novel is charming and short, but also biting and witty.
bcquinnsmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Evans Above is a cozy mystery, but at the heart of this book is a decent mystery story, with multiple suspects, red herrings, and a pretty good solution. It's cute (which, to be honest, is not one of the criteria I look for in a mystery) but I liked it.Evan Evans, often known as Evans-the-Law so as to distinguish him from Evans-the-Post or Evans-the-Meat (it's Wales...Evans is a popular name), is the policeman in the small village of Llanfair, in the Snowdonia area (known in Wales as Eryri). As the story begins, he's called upon by the owner of a chalet on the mountain to look into a missing mountain hiker, but by the time Evans gets around to getting up to the mountain to check it out, he's investigating the hiker's death. puts it off One evening he is called up to the mountain to investigate a hiker's death. He's immediately suspicious, but his superiors cannot help him out because they're all involved in a child molestation case.When another man is killed, again on the mountain, Evans knows he must solve it on his own.Very light in tone, it was a good read. I liked the main character. I'm really not very at home with cozy mysteries, although I read them from time to time, and this is one of the better series starters I've come across in that genre. Readers of cozy mysteries will like it; readers of more edgy & serious mystery readers will find it a little light. I'd recommend it to cozy readers or those who like their mystery on the lighter side.
RapidCityPubLib on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Evan Evans is a police constable who left his position in a bigger city for the relative quiet of the tiny Welsh village of Llanfair. When two hikers fall to their deaths in separate accidents on nearby Mount Snowdon, Constable Evans suspects murder. When a third body shows up, Evans is convinced, though his superiors still do not agree. Evans is forced to investigate the murders on his own.In this mystery, Bowen has written an entertaining, though romanticized glimpse of a Welsh village. Villagers are vivid and amusing and I am glad this is only the first of a series. Though this book reminded me of M. C. Beaton's Scottish constable Hamish Macbeth, I enjoyed that series immensely. It will be interesting to read other books in the Evans series to see a different author's take on the village bobby as a brilliant detective.
librisissimo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Substance: The milieu was more coloring than substance, although factually accurate (and, yes, I have been to Wales and studied with Welsh tutors here). The detective was on the edge of figuring things out, but fell into the solution rather than deducing it completely.Style: Easy-going.NOTE: (spoiler alert)There was no motivation given for the collaboration of the brothers; in fact, it was out of character for the one who died.
Carstairs38 More than 1 year ago
This great series begins when Constable Evan Evans finds two bodies outside his small village. While it's not his job, he begins to investigate. The small village charm and great characters draw you into the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it and will buy more
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge fan of Bowen's Royal Spyness series, so decided to try the Constable Evans series as well. This book was a pleasant read, but it seemed to be plotted with identical characters and settings (except in Wales rather than the Scottish Highlands) and dialogue as M.C. Beaton's Hamish MacBeth series. Beaton beats Bowen on this plot line, I think. But keep Royal Spyness books coming!
Floramae More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Evans Above which a light mystery. The descriptions of Wales and Mt Snowdon were great.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book more than the Hamish Macbeth series. I liked the hero, and thought the mystery was interesting. I will read other books on the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
They also jam everything into last chapter so that most of the plot is misdirection read several so far and stopped. However were all borrowed suggest sample if uncertain
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this series. Wish Rhys would write a few more, she appears to have gone to another series and forgotten Constable Evans. A very good 'cozy' mystery.
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