Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bring Your Own Poison - Jimmie Ruth Evans

Bring Your Own Poison
A Trailer Park Mystery
Jimmie Ruth Evans
Berkley Prime Crime


Working a bachelor party at the Kountry Kitchen is not exactly Wanda Nell Culpepper’s idea of a fun evening, but the struggling single mom can’t afford to turn down the tips. As expected, a little liquor and a few toasts to the groom-to-be are all it takes to get the crude remarks flowing. Surprisingly, though, some of the most crude come from the groom himself, Travis Blakely. His younger brother Gerald takes exception to the remarks and takes a swing at his older brother, but is quickly subdued. Travis makes another explicit toast, gulps down a drink, and immediately falls to the floor, dead.

Although he was a cop, Travis had a questionable reputation. He’d already been married twice before, and widowed both times under very suspicious circumstances. His first wife died in an arson fire; his second wife was run off the road after a second arson failed to kill her. Nothing was ever proved, but Wanda Nell is pretty sure that where there’s that much smoke, there’s most likely fire. So to speak.

Last seen in BEST SERVED COLD and MURDER OVER EASY, Wanda Nell is a very realistic and likeable character. Life has handed her some pretty hard knocks, but she’s managed to pull herself up and do right by herself and her children. It’s a lot of work, but it’s obviously worth it. As with each installment, the main characters, including Wanda Nell’s family members, grow and evolve in very real ways. While the mystery sometimes takes a bit of a backseat to the family dynamics, the author makes it work, since, really, family is the center of Wanda Nell’s life.

Rating: 7
January 2008ISBN# 978-0-425-21905-8 (paperback)


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