Oh—sorry. I just finished reading “Of War and Taters”, by Ashley Chappell. Hoo-boy—this is not a book that you would want to read in bed while your significant other is trying to get to sleep.
A small-town sherriff (yes, two Rs—the guy who made the badge ran off with the florist before they could get another one made), Stanley Grace is used to the gossip and the mentality of the people of Merit, the town he protects and serves. Whether it be mad women or millionaires, rolling-pin collectors or the husbands they use said utensils upon, he has pretty much seen it all. It’s rather a mix of Mayberry RFD and something Terry Pratchett may have made up.
His own wife has tried to murder him on many occasions and has sweetly denied it, and he pretty much just lets her get away with it. Every once in a while, she finds something else to grace her attentions on, which takes the load off him.
Enter Cud, the stray dog. Formerly called Mr. Cuddle Face by Stanley’s wife, he is seriously considering moving in to the sherriff’s (two Rs) office for good.
This may have also been a bad idea. With the cavalcade of weirdness that suddenly overtakes their town, Stanley and his lone deputy have their hands full, and little dogs are often overlooked. He takes it in stride, though. Life in Merit is never boring.
You know, it’s funny how rumors get started. A gang of ne’er-do-wells, all of them at the ripe old ages of nine through eleven, get themselves and their town in deep national trouble. The media circus, including one Dana Perki (the “I” is silent), swoops down on the burg to investigate. This is happening at approximately the same time as a real sawdust-and-elephants circus is putting up tents in Mad Mother Hinkle’s potato field.
And the population of Merit has grown by one more citizen. Okay, a half a citizen. Maybe.
Monty Gregory, a murdered actor, has decided that he would rather not be dead, thank you. And so it is thus. Sort of.
All of this comes together in a soup bowl of comedy and insanity. What’s surprising is that drama and mystery are thrown into the mix as well, and the result is a very satisfying end.
This was the most hilarious book I have read since the last Terry Pratchett novel. I can honestly compare Ms. Chappell and Mr. Pratchett favorably. Every one of her characters is wonderfully memorable, and there are more twists and turns in this tale than the kinks in Cud’s coat.
I know this will sound over-used, but I really mean it: “Of War and Taters” is laugh-out-loud hilarious.