LIZA CODY – Bucket Nut. Eva Wylie #1. Doubleday, hardcover, 1993. UK edition: Chatto & Windus, hardcover, 1992. Mysterious Press, US, paperback, 1995.


   I haven’t been a big fan of Cody’s Anna Lee stories. Haven’t really hated them, you understand, just haven’t like them well enough to seek them out. For better or worse, Eva Wylie is a different breed of cat entirely.

   Eva is a big, not very pretty, not exceptionally bright young lady who is a security guard for a wrecking yard, and a lady wrestler (the villain), and an errand runner for a shady Chinaman. She has an attitude, a drunken whore for a mother, and a sister from whom she was separated in childhood and with whom she yearns to be reunited.

   She’s a bit of a thief, too. She’s a brick or two shy of a load, and it’s probably because she threw them at someone. Her best friends, maybe her only, are two guard dogs, but she wants none of your effing pity, thank you. Innocently enough (according to her own lights, anyway), she gets herself involved in a gang war, and ends up with what seems to be half of London looking for her.

   This is different. If you’re tired of the same old thing in crime fiction, this isn’t it. It’s a portrait of a young woman who hasn’t been given a whole lot of a breaks by either nature or nurture, and is coping the best way she can. Cody tells her story in a matter-of-fact first person, and the language is the lower-class language of London.

   It’s a rough story, told in rough words, about rough people. The picture painted of the world of professional wrestling is fascinating, if not particularly edifying.

   Cody seems to strives for neither humor nor tragedy, though you may find elements of either or both, depending on your own psyche. While first-person a narration has its limitations, it is perfect for the kind of portrait that she paints here.

   This is as good a job of making an unlovely, unlikable character seem human enough to be worthy of sympathy as I’ve seen lately, and it’s excellent storytelling. Eva sticks in your mind.

— Reprinted from Ah, Sweet Mysteries #9, September 1993.

Note:   Bucket Nut was awarded the British CWA Silver Dagger in 1993. Cody’s other series character, PI Anna Lee, makes a cameo appearance in this first outing for Eva.

       The Eva Wylie series —

1. Bucket Nut (1992)
2. Monkey Wrench (1994)


3. Musclebound (1997)