Bring Your Own Poison
by Jimmie Ruth Evans
Review by Beth Slater
Berkley Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425219058
Date: 02 January 2008 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Wanda Nell Culpepper is back! Like many, she's just trying to get by, but life always seems to interfere. This time, life presents itself in the form of another dead body - a local deputy drops dead at his own bachelor party in the Kountry Kitchen's banquet hall, and Wanda Nell is a witness! Despite the attendance of most of the local law enforcement (for the party, of course), she is the only one with sense enough to call the acting sheriff because she has a strong suspicion that poison was involved in the death of the less-than-popular, crude-mouthed officer. When the bridegroom's own brother, quite drunk, presents Wanda Nell with an empty vial of unknown origins, Wanda Nell decides that the party's definitely over - before someone else falls flat on their face!
With two daughters and a grandson living with her, Wanda Nell is working two jobs just to keep ahead of the bills. It takes its toll, but that's just how life is and she just rolls with the punches. But when the hit is suspicion of murder, Wanda Nell has to make time to get answers where none are forthcoming. Wanda Nell's relationship with schoolteacher Jack is heating up; but so is her youngest daughter's temperature - and just when her older daughter Miranda seems to be taking two steps forward towards independence, something trips her up. Her best friend Mayrene does all she can to help, but Mayrene seems to finally have found a decent guy, as well, so all Wanda Nell can do is put one foot in front of the other and take things one day at a time - but will her common sense lead her into the path of a killer?
There's a lot going on in this light, well-written cozy and there are a lot of characters to keep up with, but Evans' manages to keep the stories straight and well-blended so that it all seems to come together in the end. Some of the sub-plots are easy to foresee, but one is never disappointed with the results. And to some, the lifestyle of the characters may seem over the top, but having grown up in a small southern town I was never thrown out of the story by something that didn't fit - more often I was reminded of those memories and years past.
I truly enjoyed my short journey with Wanda Nell, her children, and her friends and family. Unlike some cozies, Wanda Nell doesn't seem to plow forth without sense or thought to repercussions, making the reader wonder how she managed to live this long. Cozy readers will love this series - a light read with modern twists.