Friday, January 30, 2009

Can't Never Tell-Cathy Pickens

Can't Never Tell
Cathy Pickens
Minotaur (St. Martin’s), Feb 17 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780312354442

In Dacus, South Carolina, seven year old Emma is somewhat bored while wandering around the fair fright house with her Aunt Avery while two teenage couples are also touring the place. However, the child’s ennui ends when the leg of a mannequin with a chainsaw separates; she realizes immediately as does her aunt that the limb is that of a human remain. The fright house is closed as the cops investigate the mannequin that turns out to be a mummified human.

The next day, Emma’s parents and Aunt Avery are attending a faculty picnic near Bow Falls when the wife of Professor Reimann falls into the waterfall. While the Fair’s owners have retained attorney Avery to help them reopen for the July Fourth holiday weekend, a friend of the professor asks her to file a life insurance claim since the grieving widower is too upset to do so. However, Avery also wants to know who the corpse in the fright house is though she leaves that to her assistant Shamanique to explore and who pushed Rinda into the falls.

The latest Avery Andrews legal cozy is a fun regional tale filled with some of the down home humor expected of a Cathy Pickens novel; starting with the two teen couples Amazonian girlfriends knocking the leg off the mannequin. The story line is not quite as fast and breezy as previous entries like HUSH MY MOUTH or HOG WILD but in some ways is much deeper as the audience obtains a profound look at financial fraud that is critical to the plot leading to a cautionary afterward.

Harriet Klausner