Bring Your Own Poison
Jimmie Ruth Evans
Berkley, Mar 2008, $6.99
Wanda Nell Culpepper is the waitress serving the Trevor Blakely bachelor party at the Kountry Kitchen in Tullahoma, Mississippi. Rumors abound that Trevor’s two wives died of suspicious “accidental” circumstances and that both of his spouses had large life insurance policies with him as the benefactor. At his gala, Trevor is a loudmouth, making ugly remarks about women especially his fiancée. When he reaches behind him, grabs a drink from a table and sips it; he suddenly dies.
The police assume he was poisoned with his younger brother Gerald as the prime suspect since he loves his future sister-in-law. While drunk at the party, Gerald picked up a vial containing a liquid. The police take him in for questioning. State Police officer Bill Warren heads the investigation; he believes Gerald did the MURDER OVER EASY crime as he had motive, means and opportunity. Bill tries to blackmail Wanda into signing a statement that she knows is false. She decides to conduct her own inquiry as Bill has convicted Gerald.
Life in a small Mississippi town especially in a trailer park turns interesting when the eccentrics are determined to help. In addition to her investigation, the heroine contends with a situation concerning her oldest daughter, come to terms with her feelings for Jack who wants to marry her, and keep his niece safe from a stalker. Wanda Nell assumes all this is a piece of cake as she is a waitress and deals daily with a lot worse. Character driven, BRING YOUR OWN POISON is an entertaining regional amateur sleuth.