Still Life in Brunswick Stew by Larissa Reinhart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
**Still Life In Brunswick Stew** by *Larissa Reinhart*, a 5 Star rated mystery if ever there was one, is the second book in the **Cherry Tucker** mystery series. Move over Stephanie Plum, because there's another interesting and outrageous character on the bookshelves, and she's every bit as entertaining as Stephanie ever has been.
Cherry Tucker comes from Halo, Georgia, which is close to Sidewinder, Georgia, home of the popular Annual Sidewinder Brunswick Stew Cook-Off, an event that becomes bigger each year drawing people from states away to sample the delicious variations on Brunswick Stew as prepared by locals who view this event as their yearly money-maker. Cherry Tucker is an artist. She and her friend Eloise Parker, who makes Raku pottery, have teamed up with an art booth at the Cook-
Off, hoping to sell their handmade wares. Both women are talented in their respective fields, but it's hard to keep their kind of business going in such a small town. Both women need a big name to recognize them and give them the break they need to progress.
Eloise has Crohn's Disease, but that doesn't stop her from liberally sampling the stew at the cook-off since lately she seems to have her disease under control. Her boyfriend, Griffin Ward, wants to take credit for her improvement since he's been giving her doses of his homemade liquid drink most folks agree looks very much like pond scum. Cherry Tucker gives him no credit at all, but then she doesn't like Griffin much since she found out he may be physically abusing Eloise. After eating 6 cups of the Brunswick Stew, Eloise becomes very ill, is taken to the hospital, and within a short time, she dies. At first her disease is blamed, but when lots of other people from the Cook-Off become sick as well, it is discovered that the stew may be at fault for all the sick people. One of the cooks is in a coma as a result of eating the stew which was prepared by him and his family's business. Eloise Parker's father wants answers for why his daughter died, and Cherry is right behind him with her amateur sleuthing skills to get to the bottom of what killed her friend.
Cherry Tucker is a hoot. Just give her a sundress or a pair of flip flops, and she will alter these simple items into fancy going-out-on-the-town wardrobe items. True, not everyone understands Cherry's fashion vision, but that doesn't concern her. She's too busy flashing her panties during an awkward, unplanned front roll-over in church, or battling her grandfather's goat Tater, or trying to figure out what turned her lips to mush when she kisses Luke, or helping poor souls like Hunter Adams, or trying to get information out of her Uncle Will, the town sheriff, or trying to keep track of what may be illegal goings on at the Bear's gorgeous mansion. There's so many well developed characters, it's hard to list them all. Suffice it to say, Larissa Reinhart has a knack for writing people who keep readers entertained and wanting more.
Eventually the mystery behind who was responsible for killing and/or making people sick with food poisoning is solved, but not before we're given more information advancing the stories of key characters, and prompting us to read the next Cherry Tucker Mystery in the series. This is why I've rated **Still Life In Brunswick Stew** with 5 stars. It's a keeper!
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