Friday, January 05, 2007

Best Served Cold - Jimmie Ruth Evans

Best Served Cold
A Trailer Park Mystery
Jimmie Ruth Evans
Berkley Prime Crime


Wanda Nell Culpepper is just about finished with her evening shift at the Kountry Kitchen when she sees a customer she never expected. It’s Rusty, the younger brother she hasn’t seen since their mother’s funeral. At the time, Wanda Nell was furious that Rusty ignored their dying mother’s pleas to return home for a final visit, and she let him know it, in no uncertain terms. For the past six years, the siblings haven’t been in touch.

He refuses to tell Wanda Nell why he’s come back to town after living in Nashville for almost ten years. All he’ll tell her is that he has to take care of some things that are none of her business. The next day, Wanda Nell overhears Rusty having a nasty argument with Bert Vines, who went to high school with both of them. A few days later, the sheriff, Elmer Lee, is looking for Rusty. It seems that Reggie Campbell is dead; the back of his skull crushed. And there are witnesses who say Rusty had a violent argument with him just hours earlier. Wanda Nell is sure that her little brother isn’t capable of murder and vows to clear his name. But the more she digs into his activities, the less she likes what she finds.

After a bit of a sophomore slump, the third entry in this series is right back on track. Wanda Nell is a great character. She’s a single mother, and a grandmother thanks to her unmarried teen daughter, who works two jobs to keep her family afloat. It’s exhausting, but she does what she needs to do. Her sense of family loyalty is strong enough to compel her to go out on a limb for an estranged brother. For all that, she’s no fool, and realizes that life is often untidy. The supporting cast of characters deepens with each installment, and they all seem very realistic. The mystery here is complex and interesting; and the outcome is uncertain until the end. I’m looking forward to more from this steel magnolia of the trailer park.

Rating: 7 ½
January 2007
ISBN# 978-0-425-21349-0 (paperback)


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