Liza Cody

Eva Wylie - Female Wrestler, Accidental Sleuth, London, England

"Monkey Wrench"

(Reviewed by Judi Clark AUG 1, 1999)

Monkey Wrench by Liza Cody

There is nothing about this mystery novel that is typical. Eva Wylie is a female wrestler called "The London Lassasin" in the ring and "Bucket Nut" by passing fans. In the ring, she's a villain, the louder the boos, the nastier the curses, the more satisfied she is. Eva Wylie is a big, ugly woman, proud of her muscles and unsympathetic to most of humankind. She's probably the only female protagonist that is clearly angry all of the time, often shouting, always rude and most appropriately compared to "a rogue elephant with a burr up its backside."

But she's not without an accidental soft side. In Monkey Wrench, one of her childhood street associates, Crystal, (remember she has no friends), begs her to teach self-defense to half a dozen women working out of the Full Moon. Crystal's sister, a prostitute, was just beat to death by two men behind the Full Moon. Other women had had the same fate in the past without the police really looking into the matter. So Crystal figures that Eva can teach these women a few tricks to protect themselves. But Eva is not so hopeful. As she watches them flounce around their make shift gym, she asks herself, "what do women think their bodies are for? ... to stuff food in one end and men in the other." Of course, she does not turn down a paying job.

The other thing that's atypical about this novel, is that our protagonist is not a sleuth. She's not looking for clues. The only thing she seeks is to maintain her routine of working out at the gym, a wild weekly fight and securing the junkyard she's paid to watch with with her two dogs. In fact, she's so narrow minded in her pursuit that she misses most of what's going on around her. About the only thing that gets her attention is when someone recognizes her as "Bucket Nut."

There is a lot of humor in this novel, due to Eva's self delusion and language. It is written in a hard street style similar to a hacker sci-fi novel. The metaphors are all the more colorful coming from a tough Londoner. What I like best about this book is that Liza Cody does not spell everything out for us, she assumes that we are more worldly than Eva Wylie and while Eva may misunderstand a situation, she assumes we won't. In fact it is this ability to allow us to see her fallibility that makes us understand why people bother with Eva at all. You have to admit that there is something very likable about this naive, oversized, ugly woman. Even Anna Lee, P.I. from Cody's other series likes her.

  • Amazon reader rating: from 5 reviews

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Bibliography: (with links to

Eva Wylie Mysteries:

Anna Lee Mysteries:



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Book Marks:


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About the Author:

Liza CodyLiza Cody (real name Liza Nassim) grew up in London. She studied painting at the City and Guilds of London Art School and the Royal Academy Schools. She has worked as a painter, furniture maker, photographer and graphic designer. Her first book Dupe won the 1980 British John Creasey Award for best crime novel and was nominated for the Edgar Award. A&E created a series based on the Anna Lee novels. Rumor has it that Cody started the Eva Wylie series because A&E bought ALL rights to Anna Lee. Bucket Nut won the 1992 British Crime Writers' Association Silver Dagger Award. About Us | Subscribe | Review Team | History | ©1998-2014