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Saturday, January 30, 2021

Third Installment in Appealing Historical Mystery Series Another Compelling Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Note:  While this review will not contain spoilers for The Stills, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from its predecessors, The Widows and The Hollows.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order. 

As sheriff of Kinship, Ohio, Lily Ross is sworn to protect and serve her small Appalachian community.  She takes her responsibilities seriously, striving to uphold the law in a fair, consistent manner.  When it comes to the popular past-time of making moonshine, however, pragmatic Lily has been known to look the other way a time or two in spite of increasingly restrictive Prohibition laws.  Then, a young boy gets dangerously sick after drinking tainted home-brewed alcohol while guarding a local still.  Lily is appalled.  She vows to find out who is poisoning the moonshine and why.

That's not the only problem on Lily's plate, however.  A special agent from the Bureau of Prohibition who was supposed to show up in Kinship has not yet arrived.  The man is at least missing, possibly dead.  In a move that can't be a coincidence, Lily also discovers that her nefarious brother-in-law, Luther, is working undercover for the Bureau in an effort to take down her least favorite businessman, George Vogel.  Although Lily doubts Luther's intentions, she has a vested interest in seeing Vogel imprisoned.  His new wife, Fiona, seems to feel likewise.  Can she trust Luther and Fiona to help her put their boss and husband behind bars?  Or is Lily just a pawn in their bigger game?  As she attempts to locate a missing agent, figure out just what Vogel is up to, and keep her town safe from tainted alcohol, she also has decide how she feels about a new suitor as well as an old friend who's breaking the law with the habits she swore she'd left behind for good.  Can Lily find a way to solve all the problems in a quaint little town with some big issues?  

I enjoyed the first two books in Jess Montgomery's appealing Kindship series, so I was naturally thrilled to get an early copy of the third installment, The Stills (coming March 9, 2021).  The books feature an atmospheric Appalachian setting, likable characters, and intriguing mysteries.  Although females were extremely rare in law enforcement in the 1920's, Lily makes a believable sheriff.  She's brave, determined, and unfailingly loyal to her community.  In The Stills, she shines once again as she's pitted against powerful men with sinister intentions.  The resulting plot is interesting and exciting, which makes the novel an engrossing read.  While this third book in the series is probably my least favorite, it's still a compelling, well-written historical mystery that I very much enjoyed.

(Readalikes:  Other books in the Kinship series, including The Widows and The Hollows; also reminds me of the Bell Elkins series by Julia Keller)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and blood/gore

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of The Stills from the generous folks at Macmillan via those at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

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