Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Rubbed Out - Riley Adams

Rubbed Out
A Memphis BBQ Mystery
Riley Adams
Berkley Prime Crime
The Rock and Rib barbeque competition happens every spring in Memphis.  As the owner of Aunt Pat’s, a local bbq restaurant, Lulu Taylor isn’t in the competition.  She’s just there to support the Graces – Cherry, Flo, and Evelyn - three of her friends who work as docents at nearby Graceland.  Despite the fact that the theme of the competition is inexplicably an Eastern European country, the Graces have decorated their booth with tons of Elvis.  No one who knows them would expect anything different.  What’s unexpected is their next-door-booth neighbor, Reuben Shaw.  Reuben is sure that he knows everything about everything and seems delighted to put down his fellow competitors with snide remarks.
When his venom turns on his own teammates, things get dicey.  Lulu and the Graces race next door in time to find Brody Jenson holding Reuben by the throat.  Apparently Reuben impugned the honor of Brody’s wife, Sharon, who is standing on a table to try to escape the fray.  Cherry, ever the practical Grace, knocks Reuben over the head with a plaster Elvis she just happened to grab on her way over.  That breaks up the melee.  It also marks Cherry as a great suspect when she and Lulu find Reuben dead later that evening.
This is the fourth installment in an always-entertaining series, following DELICIOUS AND SUSPICIOUS, FINGER LICKIN’ DEAD, and HICKORY SMOKED HOMICIDE.  The construction of the mystery story is classic: beginning with a close-up of the victim and suspects and eventually spiraling outward to encompass past events and motives.  There are plenty of suspects to keep things lively and another murder to solve before the end.  As fun as the mystery is, it’s the characters that endear this series to me.  They’re all realistic characters who (in many cases) have known each other for years.  Some are more eccentric than others, but they have a sense of community, family, and decency that makes this reader wish that a visit to Memphis and Aunt Pat’s was in the cards.  I’m happy to report that this series only gets stronger with each book.  I hope to be able to hang around with this bunch for a good, long time.

Rating: 7 ½
July 2013
ISBN# 978-0-425-25999-3 (paperback)


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