Premise: Bo Tully is the sheriff of the rural Blight County, Idaho, where nothing hardly ever happens and everyone knows each other. When Sheriff Tully is called out to a murder scene in Famine, he brings along Pap, his seventy-five year old father and previous sheriff, as a birthday present. The scene turns out to be more of a gift than he could have even dreamed.
A man from LA is found dead on Batim Scragg’s ranch and it is up to Sheriff Bo to figure out who the killer is and if they are still around. Batim and his sons are a prime suspect, but they seem less likely as the sheriff’s investigations proceed and more men are found dead in some sort of shootout. He calls out all his resources: his deputies, the new medical examiner, and Dave, the local tracker.
Throughout the story, Sheriff Bo Tully uses his own investigative techniques, which may lack pesky things like search warrants and Miranda rights, and may not be exactly legal. But his methods prove effective, and in the end Bo has a job to do, and he plans on getting it done.
Themes: The Blight Way is primarily a cop murder mystery novel. We follow Sheriff Bo Tully as he talks to the usual suspects and uses his unorthodox ways to draw out the perpetrators and their motives.
Surprisingly, there is a light sprinkling of romance in this story between the sheriff and Susan Parker, the attractive new medical examiner. Bo tries taking some advice from a Danielle Steele novel, but ends up just being himself, hoping that will be enough to win her over. For this, he relies on his wits and his past experiences and ex-wives.
Pros: Patrick F. McManus masterfully weaves together likeable characters with humor and style. Every character is amiable, including villains and town idiots. These characters are all unique within the limited space without becoming charicatures. I laughed at the dialogue throughout the novel, especially with the interactions between Bo and Pap. McManus really captures the small town feel with his fictional rural Idaho county.
Cons: The mystery is solved just a little too easily and with muted climax. Some additional foreshadowing might have given the reader more to hold onto while trying to determine who committed the crimes. Important information is conveniently withheld from the reader that is essential for figuring out the mystery.
Recommendations: I would recommend The Blight Way to anyone, including those who might not usually read police dramas or mystery novels. The Blight Way is also a fairly clean novel considering the plot, even cleaner than a lot of young adult or teen novels that claim to be in that category. Patrick F. McManus weaves together a story that is funny and quaint. His style is so easy to read that the chapters just fly by. If ever there were such a thing as a lighthearted murder mystery, this is it.