It's always refreshing to come across a mystery with a sleuth and a setting that isn't cut from the same pattern as so many others. Carol Miller's debut mystery Murder and Moonshine is definitely a departure. I'm afraid it will get overlooked since it came out in December amidst the holiday rush. That's a shame because Daisy McGovern stands out as a strong, determined woman.
Daisy doesn't have it easy. Her father and her father-in-law died in the explosion of a propane tank. She and her mother lost the family property; Daisy's husband just left four and a half years earlier, and her mother is ill, needing medication. But, she's from tough stock, and people in southwestern Virginia don't give up. She works as a waitress in H & P's diner while while she and her mother live in the inn owned by the eccentric, but shrewd, trigger-happy Aunt Emily.
And, Daisy is right there at the diner when a man stumbles in, foaming at the mouth, and dies. Daisy's shocked, but not too shocked to notice the reactions of those around her. The owner seems a little too relaxed. Bootlegger Rick Balsam seems to know more than he's saying. And, Aunt Emily is throwing around some odd suggestions of murder. When strangers show up in this out of the way corner of rural Appalachia, it's cause for suspicion. Why does one old man's death cause so much trouble?
The motive for the deaths are surprising in Murder and Moonshine, and the mystery is well-developed. And, the author vividly paints the setting. But, Carol Miller shines when creating characters. Daisy, Rick, and the other residents of the community are vividly drawn, realistic characters who jump from the pages. Daisy, in particular, is a fascinating woman, a strong woman who listens to the shrewd advice from her elders, and takes responsibility for protecting the people and land she loves.
According to Miller's website, Murder and Moonshine is the first Moonshine Mystery, with the second, A Nip of Murder, due out in December 2014. Don't wait that long to discover Carol Miller and her fascinating sleuth, Daisy McGovern. You'll thank me for pointing out a December mystery you might have missed.
Carol Miller's website is www.carolmillerauthor.com
Murder and Moonshine by Carol Miller. Minotaur. 2013. ISBN 9781250019257 (hardcover), 296p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.