Bill Beaman lives and farms and reads murder mysteries in Southwest Iowa, which is the beautiful backdrop for his own novels. He must keep a journal of sorts in the cab of his John Deere, as he spends those long hours in it, with his mind inventing gruesome scenarios for criminals, unusual names for bad guys with lots of rough language, and prickly predicaments for lawmen. At least I hope he invented them. It’s going to make me wonder what my easy-going cousin with a sense of humor–who has several grandchildren–is plotting, even at a family reunion.
Author’s note: Grazier Farm is a family owned and operated livestock and grain farm located in Southwest Iowa managed by Mary and Bill Beaman. Purchased in 1982, this farm has survived: the “Farm Crisis” of the eighties, a 1986 bank failure, the 1988 drought, the floods of 1993 (and several other years), the worldwide financial meltdown we are currently dealing with, and too many: fires, snow/ice storms, sore throats, banged-up vehicles and lost toys to mention. So we believe we are operating a “sustainable farming operation” and though it is often difficult, as the saying goes, “we’re still here”. Bill also has written fiction, set in Southwest Iowa.
The Iowa Farmer’s Wife
Author’s note: The Iowa Farmer’s Wife is a a page-turning mystery about a murder that takes place in the rolling hills of southwest Iowa. Bill Beaman intrigues his readers by planting a homicide smack dab in the middle of the heartland. When a rural banker is brutally murdered, two DCI detectives travel to the scene of the crime to investigate. Little do these “city boys” know what their trip into the country will entail. The plot thickens as the investigation revolves around a young widow and her struggle to hold onto her farm.
My review: What fun! A murder mystery near the tongue-in-cheek town of Pygmy, Iowa, which a couple of lawmen from the DCI in Des Moines are to solve. The victim is a credit loan officer at the local bank, who had made some foreclosures. Death was by pitchfork. The possible suspects of the mayhem are the neighbors: two old women (one rough-talking and cantankerous), a young widow (whom they DCI guys help stack bales of hay one day), another neighbor angry about the auction of farming equipment forced by the loan officer, even the banker’s mysterious son. All this is juxtaposed by the beauty of rural southwest Iowa, with interesting characters, and enough twists and turns to keep a non-mystery-reader.
Author’s note: The Iowa Farmer is at it again with a sequel to The Iowa Farmer’s Wife. Follow the adventures of a widowed farmwife trying to hang on to her livelihood and the burnt-out detective she has rescued from himself. An investigation ensues after a farmer is found buried in his own cornfield. When a 12-year-old boy turns up as a witness, the local law enforcement has to move quickly, trying to save his life. This isn’t big city CSI, FBI, or CIA. It is an exciting and heart-warming story involving farm life, romance,and murder.
My review: Second Chances follows some of the same lovable characters we met in The Iowa Farmer’s Wife–Jamie and Andrea, Hawkett and Willoughby, the excentric Oldham gals. In fact, Willoughby has become the new sheriff of Taylor County, planning on an uneventful job in a sleepy rural county only to learn there’s a steady stream of drugs coming from his new county, and have two murders on his hands, then a kidnapping. And a whole new batch of colorful suspects, one character by the name of Roydel Nuxton. A fun read.
3 Little Pigs
Author’s note: Sometimes the rural life isn’t as peaceful as one might expect. When Benjamin Willoughby takes the job as sheriff of a southern Iowa county, he finds himself dueling once again with his nemesis, Roydel Nuxton. In 3 Little Pigs, the third book in Bill Beaman’s Iowa Farmer’s trilogy, love, death and even humor collide as people try to find their perfect place in life.
My review: Roydel is back, the one-eyed piece of work wanted by the law–good old Sheriff Willoughby and temporary Deputy Adam Hawkett, whom we’ve also met in the author’s two previous books. Roydel steals vehicle after vehicle, even a county snowplow, causing more mayhem–during the week right before Hawkett is to get married to local farmer, Jamie Chambers. It’s December in Iowa, so heavy snowfall complicates gunfights, bank robberies (one done by men in pig masks), downed powerlines, and the church roof collapsing the day before the wedding. A U.S. Marshal out of the Kansas City office also gets involved trying to track down Roydel.
Goats 4 Sale
Author’s note: When convicted drug runner Billy Bob States is temporarily released from prison as a part of a federal plea deal, little does Marshal Jack Mayfield know what’s in store. During Billy Bob’s brief furlough to his less-than-stately Southwest Iowa acreage, he discovers his wife, Sugar, is expecting a child. A goat-herding farmer who believes he’s on the cutting-edge of sustainable farming with his unusual agricultural methods ends up being the key witness in an attempt on Billy Bob’s life. Soon the search is on for more than one criminal on the loose, and murder visits the usually peaceful countryside.
My review: A bearded guy called Wolford, who’s been kicked out by a cult and rides a rig made from two bicycles pulled by a huge dog, and assorted criminals (one named Billy Bob) are being watched for and chased by our Taylor County, Iowa, Sheriff, Benjamin Willoughby and U.S. Marshal, Jack Mayfield. I envision the author of this fourth book chuckling, driving his tractor in southwest Iowa, while inventing the most inventive bunch of bad guys and gruesome episodes. At least I hope he invented them. A hit man who keeps ant farms!