This is the second book in the Cherry Tucker Mystery series by Larissa Reinhart. I was lucky to have discovered and reviewed book one, Portrait of a Dead Guy earlier this year and liked it. So I was thrilled when I was offered a chance to read and review Still Life in Brunswick Stew. Cherry Tucker isn't your average Southern woman character. She is feisty, stubborn and not ashamed of her mostly dysfunctional family and their history of poverty. Cherry is the kind of woman you want in your corner; with her big heart and bigger mouth.
This story begins several months after the end of the first book. Cherry has been dating Luke, who is now a police officer working for her "Uncle" Will, the local Sheriff. Cherry is at the local Sidewinder Brunswick Stew Cook-off, with her friend Eloise, trying to sell their art. Eloise gets violently sick at the festival and ends up dying. When the family's concerns are brushed aside, Cherry promises to look into it. After all, Eloise was her friend and practically died in her arms, and Cherry figures she has Luck and Uncle Will to help. But they both warn her to stay out of it, and refuse to tell her anything. So Cherry takes matters into her own hands and starts looking for suspects. When her suspects start dying themselves, Cherry winds up over her head.
I liked a lot of things about this book. The returning characters, such as Cherry's siblings, Casey and Cody, her kind of ex husband Todd, her nemesis Shawna, and Max the Russian, all allow us to see the different sides and moods of Cherry. They round her out as a character and really give her depth. Watching Cherry kick butt was a pleasure. It is nice to see a female character outside of Urban Fantasy who can take care of herself and doesn't rely on a man to save her. Cherry also has so fun flaws. Her inability to cook and the noises her stomach makes when she is hungry are always good for a giggle.
Cherry is your go to girl when you want a Sassy Self-Reliant Southerner to make you Smile. I can't wait to read book 3, Hijack in Abstract coming in November. I expect it to be every bit as good as the first two books. This got 4 stars on Goodreads.