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Southern Fried (Southern Fried Mystery #1)

3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  430 ratings  ·  56 reviews
Attorney Avery Andrews left her BMW behind in Columbia, South Carolina, along with her job at a high-powered law firm. She's come back home to Dacus where the vehicle of choice is a pickup truck with a dog chained in the back. Avery wants time to rethink her career and her life. What she gets is a bossy great aunt drumming up clients and dragging her to social teas. That's ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 1st 2005 by St. Martin's Paperbacks (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

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I read this because it was pick of the month for one of my online reading group and because the protagonist is a lawyer. It was okay for a cozy mystery, but just okay. I kept getting distracted by the author writing out how the people in the small South Carolina talked rather than letting me imagine it; if I have to decipher the language, it makes the page-turning a bit slower. More importantly, I was never convinced about what mystery the main character was trying to solve, or even if she was t ...more
This mystery starts out in a typical sort of way for several kinds of genre fiction where a woman is the lead -- woman professional experiences trouble and goes home to her quirky (here Southern) town and her quirky extended family to sort out her life, only to find the answer to her troubles waiting for her at home. (Janet Evanovich, for example, exploited this outline (minus the moving home, since Stephanie had never left her home town) to great and profitable effect, although I gave up around ...more
I picked up this quick read at the library book sale. Lucky for me, it is the first in a series and I am hooked. I will continue to read them in order. Although the protagonist (Avery Andrews) is an attorney she acts as a detective in this book. The skeleton of a missing woman is found in a submerged vehicle several years later and Avery is trying to discover who killed her. There are other mysteries to solve as well such as what will crazy Donlee do next to show his undying love for Avery? The ...more
Nov 06, 2010 Gail added it
Shelves: mysteries
Attorney Avery Andrews leaves--was fired from--her highpowered job as an insurance attorney, defending defendants in malpractice lawsuits. She moves from the flatland city back to her hometown in the mountains of South Carolina, living in her grandfather's mountain cabin and hanging out with her quirky family. She is trying what to do with her life, uncertain whether moving to the big city to do personal injury law or to stay in the town that never forgets a flaw.

She takes a couple of cases incl
The Baking Bookworm
Note: This review, as well as many more, can also be found on my blog, The Baking Bookworm (

My Review: My regular readers know that I don't give up on a book lightly. For me, there's a fine line between giving a book and author their due and feeling like I'm wasting my precious reading time on a book that's just not clicking with me.

Unfortunately, this book and I weren't on the same proverbial page. I'm all for the light, easy-reading mystery. There's nothing b
Southern Fried by Cathy Pickens is the first book of the Avery Andrews mystery series set in Dacus, South Carolina.

Avery was fired from life in the fast lane at a major law firm. She returns home to a small Southern town and her family, where she is warmly welcomed by all. Her relatives and friends hope she will stay, so they find clients for her.

Avery is asked to represent a factory owner in an environmental audit, a branch of the law she has never practiced. She studies the relevant regulatio
Katie Winkler
I always like reading books of people I've met. I first met Cathy Pickens at a writer's conference in Athens, GA--Harriette Austin Writers' Conference. I bought this, her first book in the series, back then but never got around to reading it. Then, a couple of weeks ago I heard Cathy speak at the High Country Bookfest in Boone and was so impressed and intrigued by her, again, that I picked up another one of her books, which I will read as soon as I finish "Generosity." I'm determined to finish i ...more
I couldn't get past the first couple of chapters. Boring and didn't make any sense. Supposedly, she was a lawyer in a high-powered firm, but she got fired from her job and moved home. So, she had to give up her leased Mercedes, her apartment, etc. If she was a "lawyer in a high-powered firm", WHY didn't she have any savings? Did she have a gambling or drug problem? What did she do with her money? Maybe later in the book she had tons stashed away somewhere, but it appeared in the first couple of ...more
Personally, I found this to be a rather bland murder mystery. The characters were uninteresting and it took me some time to trudge through the entire book.
It is a good southern book with the setting of a small town such as Walhalla, South Carolina. The characters are lovable with their own accents.
In this first Avery Andrews mystery by Cathy Pickens, Avery has been fired from her big-firm attorney's job and returns to the small-town home of her youth. In a short time she finds herself smack in the middle of both a murder and an arson/murder investigation.

I found this book to be a quick, fun read. The characters are very colorful and well developed. The small-town gossip is hysterical.

The plot was a bit on the predictable side, but it was concise. Very little, if any, unnecessary fluff.

Feb 12, 2014 Jjd528 added it
It was a cute book, an easy read. I am not sure if I will pursue the rest of the series.
It is books like this that make me think it is really not as hard to get published as everyone says. I read this before I learned that you really should judge a book by its cover. It was quoted in one of my writing magazines (which, wouldn't you assume they would only use good writing as examples? Apparently not.) and it looked cute, but turned out to be tedious and trite. In the author's defense, I guess, this kind of book is really not my thing.
or, what happens when mystery readers are desperate for a new series to read.

I was hopeful about this one because there are several in the series and I always like to find a new-to-me author with a backlist. However, the characters were so unbelievable and the mystery so uninteresting that I could barely finish this one, and a year later I have only vague memories of the plot.
I've never read anything by ths author before and for me the pace was way to slow.It was about a lawyer who lost her job,In the big city and went home to her small town to regroup.The plot for me wasn't all that great and I don't think it's an author I would care to read anything else by.But for those of you who don't mind slow pace maybe you would like to give it a try!
Michele Chapman
Cathy Pickens' Avery Andrews character is a cross between Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum and Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta. The murders are plausable with a great deal of gentle comedy thrown in to make it feel like a more entertaining version of real life. A fun read.
It wasn't bad, but very predictable. I wanted to like the main character, but she was so confusing. The book seemed poorly thought out and the character development was not stellar. In fact I have no idea why any of the characters acted the way they did.
Linda Stoner
Jun 06, 2010 Linda Stoner rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Linda by: I Love A Mystery book store
This debut novel won Cathy Pickens won the 2003 St. Martin's PressMalice Domestic Contest for Best Traditional Mystery. It took me a while to get attached but, by mid-book, I was chuckling my way through the small-town South Carolina characters.
Not sure what to think about this one. It was a good, cozy mystery, but the characters took me a while to warm up to. I will continue with this series because I hate to give up after the very first one, but hopefully it will get better....
Ashley FL
I really wanted to like this mystery. Main character is a lawyer returning home after being fired from her big city job. But even I solved the mystery well under half-way into the book. There was nothing all that special about this one. Oh well.
Book Concierge
An okay cozy mystery about disgraced attorney Avery Andrews who comes back home and falls into town doings. Her office will be in an old mortuary. The series may prove interesting, but the plotting is a bit weak in thie first installment.
Avery returns home after being fired from a law firm. Now what?

I enjoyed the humor and the characters. The writing reminded me a lot of Kathy Hogan Trocheck'w work. So, if you like those books, then you might like this one.
Not as bad as some others have noted. I grant you, her use of phonetic speech is a bit annoying, but the character is fairly believable and interesting. The 2nd book in the series is better, and she lays off on the phonetics too.
This is the first in a series about a disgraced South Carolina lawyer named Avery. It is what I would call a cozy mystery. Lots of quirky characters and not much gore. I liked it and will probably continue reading the series.
Another big city attorney who returns home to a small town. I really liked Avery and Pickens does a nice job in developing other characters and an interesting plot. I've gone off to buy the couple of other books in thsi series.
This is the first of Cathy Pickens mysteries. I really like her writing. The stories are smart and the characters interesting. Avery Andrews is a lawyer, and Pickens incorporates insight into the law as well.
This a nicley - written solid mystery. Not the kind of book that will cause you to neglect your family because you can't put it down, but welcoming enough that you'll be happy to pick it up and read on at any point.
This was an okay read. If we had half stars it would be more of a 2.5 stars.
I liked it enough to read another one...especially since I already have in my TBR pile. It was way to easy to figure out who done it though.
Debra Goldstein
Four stars for this first novel by author Cathy Pickens. Southern Fried won St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic Contest probably because of its great southern characterizations, dialogue, and story plot.
I really enjoyed this mystery and all of the characters involved. Fantastic character development and excellent reasons for Avery to be involving herself in the mystery.
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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.

The most profound influences on her life have been her family, her faith, Nancy Drew, and Perry Mason. She grew up in a small town and, forced to move to "big cities" to support herself, first as a lawyer and then as a professor
More about Cathy Pickens...

Other Books in the Series

Southern Fried Mystery (5 books)
  • Done Gone Wrong
  • Hog Wild
  • Hush My Mouth
  • Can't Never Tell
Done Gone Wrong Hog Wild Hush My Mouth Can't Never Tell Charleston Mysteries: Ghostly Haunts in the Holy City

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“Odd how being away could teach you about home.” 6 likes
“His beard might once have reached to his waist, but his waist had grown off and left his beard high and dry.” 1 likes
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