"Now, if I could just talk to your husband. Maybe he can explain why there’s the corpse of a dog in my embalming room with old man Blake in the chapel crying, and blessing me, and saying you sent it."

The second in a series that began with Where Sheep May Safely Graze, Campbell's new novel returns to the town of Pleasantville for another pleasant slice of life that, like reality itself, isn't always filled with pleasantries. Not everything is always what it seems. That may be a cliché, but in this breezy murder mystery and comedy, it doesn't seem like one, simply because of the fresh and original story twists and turns that give it staying power. When the main characters come home after a storm nearly obliterates their village, they find themselves living right in the middle of that cliché, thanks to a series of odd events, including a killer who has returned home after fifty years in prison, a cloudy-headed woman who starts a new job at the beloved town church, a dog that turns up at the morgue, and a secret from long ago that is finally revealed.

The story unfolds effortlessly, mostly because the author's carefree narration makes it seem as if she wants to enjoy it as much as she wants her readers to enjoy it. She does that with easily-digestible doses of humor and melancholy, delight and anxiety, tranquility and distress, ruthlessness and redemption. The novel may be a tad quote-heavy at times, but that's easily overlooked because of its abundance of little narrative asides, anecdotes, conjectures, and bits of business, all of which make the story seem real. When an author can come up with quirky characters, put them in intriguing situations, make it all seem genuine (which sometimes means as peculiar as life itself), and utilize good narrative and grammatical skills, then his or her story has a good chance of succeeding. This one does and is a modestly presented, articulately written book.

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