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by Carol Miller
Minotaur Books, December 2014
305 pages
ISBN: 1250019273

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Daisy "Ducky" McGovern can't figure out why her partner's cat continues to show up in the dining room of Sweetie Pie's. The place is hopping with business thanks to the geocachers staying up at the campgrounds during their meet so the last thing she needs is someone to report the cat to the Board of Health! She picks up the cat, carries it into the kitchen and intends to tell Brenda her partner to leave the cat at home. But when she walks through the kitchen door all thoughts of the cat are forgotten because her partner is standing in front of an open refrigerator holding a bloody knife with a very dead man on the floor. Brenda had interrupted a burglary and had stabbed one of the men. But if robbing a café in mid day wasn't odd enough the item stolen certainly was. The robbers only took ninety pounds of cream cheese!

A NIP OF MURDER is Miller's second book in the Moonshine Mystery series. Set in a small town in rural Virginia, the books are populated with a colorful cast of characters ranging from Ducky and Brenda, the owners of Sweetie Pie's, to the Balsam brothers. Rick the older brother runs a highly successful moonshine business while Bobby the younger brother is not exactly lazy but seems perfectly satisfied to spend his days drinking and messing with his guns. The fact that Bobby's skill set is skewed more towards tracking and hunting than communicating with people or "book learning" probably explains much of Bobby's lifestyle. The characters can surely support a series for several more books.

The setting plays a major role in this book in that there are probably limited places in the country where the opening of a new nip joint (where illegal liquor is sold by the drink) is an accepted, if hidden business and the drinking of home distilled "likker" seems to be a completely common practice. The geography of the land is important as well not only for the geocaching, but for plot turns that come towards the end of the book. It wouldn't have to be rural Virginia, but the setting would probably need to be somewhere in the Southern part of the Appalachian Mountains.

There were a lot of things going on in A NIP OF MURDER which kept the pages turning. Between following the geocachers to learning about nip joints to trying to solve the murders, readers will have much to think about while reading A NIP OF MURDER.

§ Caryn St.Clair resides in University City, Missouri and is a former elementary school media specialist, President of the Parks Commission and a docent at the St.Louis Zoo.

Reviewed by Caryn St Clair, December 2014

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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