Sunday, July 09, 2006

Murder Over Easy - Jimmie Ruth Evans

Murder Over Easy
A Trailer Park Mystery
Jimmie Ruth Evans
Berkley Prime Crime

Mystery - Cozy

Wanda Nell Culpepper has just returned home from her overnight job stocking shelves at Budget Mart. She’s looking forward to a day without a shift at either Budget Mart, or Kountry Kitchen, a restaurant where she has been a waitress for years. After only a few hours’ sleep, the phone wakes her. It’s Melvin Arbuckle, who runs the restaurant. He’s frantic. He’s in jail, and this is his one phone call. He needs Wanda Nell to call a lawyer, because he’s been charged with the murder of Fayetta, another waitress.

It gets worse. The previous evening, Melvin and Fayetta, who were involved, had an argument. According to Melvin, he left her alive and well at the restaurant. The following morning, when he arrived to open the place, Fayetta was dead, and Kountry Kitchen looked like a slaughterhouse. Knowing that Melvin would never do such a thing, Wanda Nell leaps into action. The case against him looks bad, but Fayetta was the kind of woman who could make all kinds of enemies. She liked to keep several men at her beck and call at one time; and it didn’t matter to her if some of them were married. There were plenty of people who might have wanted her dead, and Wanda Nell is determined to find the real killer.

As is obvious by the subtitle, Wanda Nell and most of her friends live in a trailer park. While the author does make an effort to overcome the inherent stereotypes, they tend to creep in fairly regularly. There’s the unmarried, mostly shiftless, teenaged daughter with the infant son, for example. The liberal use of “ain’t,” for another. Beyond that, however, is an entertaining small town mystery. Wanda Nell is a strong woman, determined to make a better life for herself and her kids. And if part of that is irritating the local sheriff and finding a murderer? Well, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Rating: 6
July 2006
ISBN# 0-425-20924-5 (paperback)

Rating Scale = 1-10


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