Friday, January 8, 2016

The Body in the Landscape (A Cherry Tucker Mystery #5)

Author:  Larissa Reinhart
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Paperback; Ebook
ISBN #:  9781943390403; 9781943390373
Henery Press
294 Pages; 276 Pages
$31.95; $15.95; $4.99 Kindle
December 15, 2015
Five Stars

When Cherry Tucker's invited to paint the "kill portrait" for the winner of Big Rack Lodge's Hogzilla hunt, it seems like a paid vacation.  Back home in Halo, a Hatfield-McCoy-style standoff builds between Luke and Cherry's families.  She's ready for a weekend away, hobnobbing with rich and famous hunters, where she can forget her troubles and nobody knows her name.

As Georgia sunshine turns to bleak December rain, Cherry's R&R goes MIA when she finds a body in the woods. While the police believe the local drunk took an accidental spill, Cherry has her doubts, particularly when a series of malicious pranks are targeted at the rifle-toting contestants.  With loyal companions at her side - sort-of-ex-husband Todd and a championship bayer named Buckshot - Cherry tracks suspects through a forest full of pitfalls and perils.  And all the while, a killer's stalking the hunt party with a bead on Cherry.


Cherry Tucker is an artist who has been hired by her friend Max Avtaikin to paint the portrait of the winning hunter who kills Hogzilla, a giant boar that has been terrorizing farms in the area of the hunt, Big Rack Lodge.  Also along is Cherry's best friend Todd, who is there to help Max, who is recovering from a bad knee.

Max's main competitor is a loudmouth with a reality show, Bob Bass, who insists it will be he and not the Bear (Max) who will make the final kill, although there are other competitors - except one, who has one a "local" raffle - all who have paid an entry fee of $10,000 for the 'privilege' of hunting and killing the boar.  There are Bob's girlfriend, Peach Payne, LaToya Peterson, Clinton and Jenny Sparks, the local Rick Miller, and Bob's publicist Rita Rispoli.

But things begin to go awry from the very first night.  Cherry decides to do a little painting on her own, and when Todd joins her, she notices something in the distance.  It turns out to be a blue ball cap.  When Cherry gets a little closer to the cap, she finds the person it belongs to: Abel Spencer - and he's no longer among the living.  Cherry is shaken up, because she spoke with him not too long ago.  And though everyone insists Abel must have been drunk and fallen to his death, Cherry knows he was sober and that there's more than meets the eye.

Given the brush off by the local police, she decides to investigate on her own, which at times isn't subtle at all.  And when there are ensuing "accidents" Cherry knows she's on the right trail, even if Max seems disinterested and everyone else tells her she's crazy.  Eventually Cherry discovers a lot of the 'accidents' are aimed toward her, which convinces her she was right all along.

Cherry, for all her worth as an artist, can't seem to stay out of trouble.  This is the fifth book in the series, and she manages to find it no matter where she goes.  I would go so far as to say that when trouble comes knocking at the door, she invites it in and offers a chair.  The reason she is on the hunt in the first place is because Max is trying to give her a weekend where she can relax and enjoy herself, but I've come to the conclusion that Cherry doesn't know how to do that.

She can't stop thinking about the fact that her brother is facing serious jail time, and Luke Harper, her wanna-be boyfriend, is the arresting officer and part of the clan that is trying to put him away.  Even though she knows Luke is on her side, it isn't enough and Cherry is keeping him at arms' length.  In her mind, her family hates his, and she needs to stand with her family.  So with her love life in a shambles, she now also has to contend with the fact that someone is out to kill someone in the hunting party, and it could very well be her.

Some of the situations she finds herself in are both crazy and humorous at the same time, and there were moments that were outright funny.  The mystery was written well and plot twists abound.  Even when things seem to come out alright, as they always do in the end, she still has the problem facing her of her family hating Luke.

All in all, a solid entry into the series.  Highly recommended.


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