Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cathy Pickens's "Can't Never Tell"

Cathy Pickens has been, under different names, a lawyer, a business professor, a university provost, a clog-dancing coach, a church organist / choir director, and a typist.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to Can't Never Tell, the fifth Southern Fried Mystery featuring Avery Andrews, and reported the following:
In Can't Never Tell, the Page 99 test gives a nice overview for the major themes in the murder mystery and for its protagonist, attorney Avery Andrews.

Captured on page 99 is the conflict with Professor Rog Reimann, a client whose wife disappeared over the edge of a waterfall and who doesn't think he needs representation, even as the police size him up as a likely murderer. Stir into the mix Eden Rand, a fellow professor who has taken Rog under her protective wing, despite the eyebrows raised by her obvious attentions to an until-recently married man.

The page also gives a glimpse of the growing and quirky friendship between Avery and Rudy, a high school acquaintance who is now chief sheriff's deputy.

Then there's the Fourth of July festivities in a small Southern town, complete with a waitress at Maylene's who resents having to work the holiday -- or work at all.

In small towns, the closeness and intimacy of the residents gathers alongside the tensions that familiarity can breed; those themes run through the book.

At its heart, the book is a traditional mystery, showcasing the small-town South, family closeness and long-standing friendships, the importance of food and celebration, even the classic scarred Formica table at the local diner where Avery contemplates whether the scratches "formed a Rorschach outline or a meditative maze I could trace with my finger."

Page 99 gives the flavor of a book that combines traditional puzzle mystery with quirky humor and a head-line death whose tendrils reach surprising places. Come and visit.
Learn more about the author and her books at Cathy Pickens' website.

The Page 99 Test: Hush My Mouth.

--Marshal Zeringue