Title: Murder and Moonshine by Carol Miller
Imprint: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 305 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
A debut mystery set in the heart of moonshine country and brimming with Southern charm
All small towns have secrets—and plenty of them—as every small town waitress knows. Daisy is no different. A young, recently-separated waitress at H&P’s Diner in sleepy southwestern Virginia, she hears more than her fair share of neighborhood gossip while serving plates of hash and peach cobbler. But when a reclusive old man, Dickerson, shows up at the diner one day, only to drop dead a few minutes later, Daisy quickly learns that some secrets are more dangerous to keep than others—especially when there’s money and moonshine involved.
Daisy finds herself caught between whiskey and guns; a handsome ATF agent and a moonshine-brewing sweet talker; and a painful past and a dangerous present. Not sure any longer who she can trust, Daisy must turn sleuth while also protecting her sick mother and keeping a handle on Aunt Emily, her goading, trigger-happy landlord. There’s trouble brewing in her small town, and before it passes, many secrets will come to light.
Carol Miller makes a memorable and charming debut in Murder and Moonshine, the first of an intriguing new series.
Carol Miller serves up a big dose of Southern hospitality in her debut novel, Murder and Moonshine. This murder mystery is quite puzzling but it is the delightfully appealing cast of quirky characters that kept me glued to the pages of this compelling story.
Daisy McGovern has her hands full with her ill mother and gun-toting honorary Aunt Emily when local recluse Fred Dickerson unexpectedly passes away in the diner where she is a waitress. This spunky independent young woman is struggling financially in the wake of her husband’s disappearance and the unfair seizure of the family farm by the ATF. So she is not all happy when ATF agent Ethan Kinney shows up to investigate Fred’s death. Deciding there is some truth to the old adage “keep your friends close and enemies closer”, Daisy reluctantly joins forces with Ethan to uncover the truth behind Fred’s demise. A second death hits close to home and puts Daisy in danger as she and Ethan close in on the killer.
A series of misdirects and lack of clear motive keep the plot of Murder and Moonshine moving at a brisk pace as Daisy and Ethan investigate Fred’s death. Inside information about the intricacies of the moonshining business provides valuable insight into how Fred was murdered but they are left wondering why anyone would kill the elderly man. The pair are equally mystified by the sudden interest in who owns Daisy’s old family homestead. But it is Daisy’s preoccupation with new owner’s identity that obscures a vital clue and puts Daisy, her mom and Ethan in harm’s way.
Murder and Moonshine has an interesting and well-developed storyline that is full of twists and turns. The eclectic cast of characters is three-dimensional and quite entertaining. Carol Miller perfectly captures all of the complicated nuances of Southern living and she brings the small town vividly to life. While most of the novel’s mysteries are solved, I am desperately hoping the next installment will answer the question of what happened to Daisy’s husband!