Can’t Never Tell by Cathy Pickens is the fifth book in the “Southern Fried” cozy mystery series. Publisher: Minotaur Books, February 2009

It’s another Fourth of July in Dacus, South Carolina and the carnival fright house isn’t impressing Avery’s 7-year-old niece Emma. That is, until the leg falls off a mannequin posed with a chainsaw. Then even Emma recognizes the human leg bone protruding from the wizened limb.

The next day, Avery joins her sister Lydia and her brother-in-law at a faculty picnic up on the mountain. The festivities are interrupted when one of the faculty wives disappears off the waterfall.
Between the owners of the fright house wanting Avery to help them get reopened before they miss out on the holiday crowd, and the widower’s new protective lady friend insisting that someone needs to be safeguarding his financial interests, Avery has her work cut out for her. She finds herself following the money as she pieces together a very cold case and a very cold-blooded murder.

Cathy Pickens’s signature wit and verve are in full force as she spins the most enjoyable yarn yet in this delightful Southern cozy series.

Features Avery Andrews, Attorney-at-Law in Dacas, South Carolina.  On a visit to a haunted house with her niece, Emma, Avery didn’t expect to find a mummified body.  After the carnival is shut down for the day, the owners wanted Avery’s help in finding out who this man was and to bring him a proper burial.  Later having met her sister at a faculty picnic up in the woods, Avery hears a scream only to discover that a woman has fallen into waterfalls.  When the husband is suspected of this crime, his friend comes to Avery to plead his case and help seek some of the insurance money. Later Avery finds out that despite a large cash settlement, he doesn’t have any liquid cash.  By following the money, Avery soon discovers that things may not appear as they should and investment fraud has reared its ugly head in the town of and near Dacas.  I continue to enjoy the adventures of Avery but would love to see her have a romance.  [3.5 stars – really liked it]

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