Reviewed by Jeanne
“Aunt Emily was always generous with her advice and opinions. Taken on the whole, a bit too generous, and more often than not, it wasn’t so clear whether that advice tended to be brilliant or batty.”
Things seem to be looking up for Daisy McGovern. She’s turned the old diner where she used to work as a waitress into her own bakery, Sweetie Pies, and the place is doing fairly well – until the robbery and murder, that is. The murder was an accident, though, caused when one of the masked men kicked Brenda’s cat Blot and ended up stabbed with Brenda’s chef’s knife. The other two made off with the goods: 90 pounds of cream cheese.
As if that weren’t odd enough, Bobby Balsam has managed to get engaged to an intelligent and sophisticated young woman who is running a geocaching tournament, though what she could possible see in backward Bobby is a mystery for the ages. Or maybe she just knows that Bobby’s brother Rick has a moonshine empire and she thinks that’s a way to some of the cash—or maybe even to Rick himself.
Since the sheriff is out of town and his clueless replacement is just that, Daisy decides she needs to find out what’s going on before she ends up out of business. The trail takes her to a nip joint (as in illegal drinking establishment), caves, the historical society, and down more than a few backroads as she tries to figure out who would want to steal all that cream cheese—and why.
I had read the first book in the series, Murder and Moonshine, a few months back and been pleasantly surprised to find that Miller did a good job of portraying the Southwestern Virginia region and its people without being condescending. While there are some stereotypical aspects, the characters are more nuanced than most such portrayals. Daisy is feisty and smart, a young woman out to make her own way in the world while keeping her ties to family and friends. The love-hate relationship between Daisy and Rick is well done, as Daisy tries to fight her attraction to a man who represents most of the things she despises. While this tends to be a standard plot point these days, Miller makes it believable. Rick himself is an especially intriguing character. He’s definitely involved in illegal practices, he’s a womanizer, and can be sexist and yet he can be unexpectedly considerate. He’s obviously very interested in Daisy even if she doesn’t return his affections—at least not that she will admit, even to herself.
The mysteries are good ones, and the resolution is satisfying, though it hints at more upheavals in Daisy’s life. In short, I found this to be a very entertaining and enjoyable tale. I’ll be looking forward to the next in the series, An Old Fashioned Murder, which is “coming soon.” Miller’s website is www.carolmillerauthor.com.