LIZ CODY – Monkey Wrench. Eva Wylie #2. Mysterious Press, hardcover, 1995; paperback, 1996.

   I was never a fan of Cody’s Anna Lee stories, but Bucket Nut, the first of the Eva Wylie book struck me as fresh, very readable, and even a bit poignant.

   Eva Wylie, aka Bucket Nut and the London Assassin, hasn’t changed much. She’s still a wrestling villain, still guards a junk yard, still the occasional job for Anna Lee. And she’s still big, not too bright, a board or two shy of a stack at times, and independent as a greased pig on ice.

   Her latest troubles stat when an old mate from her younger street days comes to her for help after her sister, a prostitute, has been beaten to death. The mate wants Eva to teach a bunch of other prostitutes self-defense, and somewhere along the way help her find who killed her sister, and do for him. Eva doesn’t want any part of it, but life never has paid a lot of attention to what Eva wants. Nor does it now.

   Eva Wylie is one of the best-conceived and beautifully drawn characters n modern crime fiction. Cody does a marvelous job of sustaining a voice and view that can’t be easy, and are unique. Eva lives a gritty life in a dingy world, and fights through every day as if it were her own private war.

   These aren’t pretty stories, and they aren’t about pretty people. It would be easy to play the characters for laughs, perhaps as easy for tears, but Cody does neither. She simply lets Eva come to life for us, and lets you think what you will. What I think is that in a genre filled with look-and-sound-alikes, Eva Wylie stands out like a pearl in a dungheap. Cody should win awards for these. They aren’t stories everyone will like, but some will like them a lot.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #18, February-March 1995.

      The Eva Wylie series –

1. Bucket Nut (1992)
2. Monkey Wrench (1994)
3. Musclebound (1997)

Note: This series followed six in Cody’s Anna Lee series.