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I am so happy to feature The Moonshine Shack Murder today!
The Moonshine Shack Murder (A Southern Homebrew Mystery)
by Diane Kelly
About The Moonshine Shack Murder
The Moonshine Shack Murder (A Southern Homebrew Mystery)
1st in Series
Setting – Tennessee
Publisher: Berkley (July 6, 2021)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Digital ASIN : B08KPKD22T
In this intoxicating new cozy mystery series, the future for modern-day moonshiner Hattie Hayes looks bright–until death darkens the doorstep of her Moonshine Shack.
The Hayes family has made moonshine in Chattanooga since the days of Prohibition, and Hattie is happy to continue the tradition, serving up fun, fruity flavors in mason jars for locals and tourists alike. All signs indicate her new ‘shine shop will be a smashing success. What’s more, mounted police officer Marlon Landers has taken a shine to Hattie. For the first time ever, the stars seemed to have aligned in both her work and romantic life. But when a body ends up on her store’s doorstep alongside a broken jar of her Firefly Moonshine, it just might be lights out for her fledgling business.
The homicide detective can’t seem to identify the person who killed the owner of a nearby bar. The only witness is Hattie’s longhaired gray cat, and Smoky isn’t talking. When the detective learns that the victim and Hattie had a heated exchange shortly before his murder, she becomes her prime suspect.
Lest Hattie end up behind bars like her bootlegging great-grandfather a century before, she must distill the evidence herself and serve the killer a swift shot of justice.
Hattie (love that name, it was my grandma’s) Hayes comes from a long line of moonshiners and now she is keeping the tradition alive with The Moonshine Shack where she will sell her grandfather’s shine along with her own brand with fruity flavors. She hopes her “Shack” and her “Shine” will be a hit with tourists and locals.
Hattie holds a grand opening party where she meets the tavern owner from across the street. She thought she had him convinced to carry her “shine” but when she goes to deliver his first order he backs out of the deal. Then a few nights later he is found dead on the Shack’s porch with a smashed jar of her moonshine nearby. She was upset by his deceit but she would never have killed the man. The only witness appears to be Hattie’s cat but he isn’t talking so she becomes the homicide detective’s #1 suspect. Officer Landers is on her side and tries to help her distill the evidence to clear her name and put the real killer behind bars.
Ms. Kelly has given her new Southern Homebrew Mystery a fantastic start. I liked these characters immediately, okay I loved her grandfather. He leaves the senior home every day to help her out at the store. When the customers are scarce he sits in the rocker on the front porch and whittles the cutest little animals. He also takes a nap here and there and there is a scene that had me giggling and you will too. I love the close relationship he has with his granddaughter. He is so proud of her for carrying on the family tradition. She is smart and savvy and knows how to market her product. Those characteristics come in handy when trying to sleuth out a killer.
Hattie has her two besties helping her out too but one is due to have a baby any day so that means she will have less time to help out. Officer Landers is such a nice man and good at his job. He takes a special interest in keeping Hattie safe and his horse is adorable. I love that this relationship is taking a romantic turn. Marlon and Hattie’s families have a history but I don’t think some old feud will come between them. I also approve highly of Hattie bringing her kitty Smoky to the shop each day. Seeing him lying in the window in the sunshine each day gives the place a real homey feel.
The mystery is very well-plotted and it quickly becomes apparent that the former barkeep has his fair share of enemies which really opened up the suspect pool. Some of his employees/girlfriends rank high on Hattie’s list but a local lawyer and other shopkeepers and a certain restaurant owner all had motives to kill the man. Hattie works hard to pare down the suspects and catch the killer because when the case wraps she has a special event she is looking forward to. I did enjoy the way she did her investigating but I took a shine to one person early on and never eliminated them. Sure I missed something I was surprised by how the ending played out and that I actually picked the right character.
As I said this series is off to a fantastic start. The location is ideal and the characters are interesting. I am excited because the author has just scratched the surface and can take this series in so many directions. I want to get to know all the characters better. I can’t wait to return to Chattanooga and The Moonshine Shack for a sample or two and whatever trouble Hattie gets herself wrapped up in.
The Moonshine Shack Murder was a pure pleasure to read and I enjoyed it very much.
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About Diane Kelly
Diane Kelly writes stories that feature feisty female lead characters and their furry, four-footed friends. Diane is the author of over 30 novels and novellas, including the Death & Taxes, Paw Enforcement, and House Flipper mystery series. In 2021, she’ll launch two new series, the Southern Homebrew moonshine series and the Mountain Lodge Mysteries.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”