Prepare to dive into Cheryl Hollon’s newest cozy mystery novel set in the beautiful rural area of Eastern Kentucky. The author introduces readers to her newest main character Miranda Tolson, who, after inheriting her uncle’s homestead is hoping to be able to make her new business “Paint and Shine” a success in order to meet the requirements of his final will and wishes. The question soon becomes…can she at the very least make ends meet when a murder happens after her first painting class? Things don’t look good for her when she becomes the main suspect as locals are quick to remind her…and the police that she and the murder victim argued…a lot. Miranda is in for a real task in proving her innocence and keeping her business afloat as best that she can. Question is…who killed the cook…and why?
Still Knife Painting is a well –written cozy mystery that is full of tasty food (and recipes, too! Yum!), smooth moonshine, secrets, a touch of romance, and a few close calls of danger. The author gives readers the main character that is coming from the big city back to a small town and the small-time life. You can tell that Miranda isn’t used to small-town life and the complications of it, but she overall handles the whole situation pretty well. I’ll say this; she handles a couple of moments better than I would have when dealing with certain individuals in the story.
I like the way that the author writes the characters overall. You can honestly see them existing in this small town in Kentucky and going about their daily business. The descriptions of the scenery and events in the story are so well done that when the characters are tearing down the dirt roads kicking up dust I can almost taste it. Haha! The author shows the dynamic differences between what Miranda is familiar with and how some more rural towns are towards outsiders. There is some serious tension between two characters with a years’ long grudge. I was honestly surprised that after all this time these two grown men were still holding on to things that should have been let go of a long time ago.
This book is a soft cozy mystery. There is some thrill of danger and a couple moments of where you are pulled to the edge of your seat with the intensity of the moment, but there isn’t a lot of drama and thrills to go with this book. The focus is mostly on Miranda as she goes from having a decent beginning to her business to struggling to keep it afloat as she is painted as a killer by the police and those who don’t approve of the moonshine aspect of her business.
The author writes in some humorous moments throughout the book to help lighten the mood which I really enjoyed. One moment that almost had me waking the whole house was after the murder when the police begin to arrive. When the author has Miranda likens one of the officers to Barney Fife and then he actually SOUNDS like Barney Fife I almost howled. I had to choke back peals of laughter and that was all I could think of and hear when reading about that particular character.
My only real disappointment with this book is the revelation of the killer. I was expecting a bit more. For me, there isn’t a big REVEAL. The build-up is decent, but the revelation is…a bit disappointing for me. I have to say that the lead-up is absolutely tragic and gives readers a view into the past that speaks of unfairness and even cruelty.
All in all, I am rating this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. The mystery is well done overall and I love how true to life the characters and settings are. There is a good deal of drama, and even some hints of romance, but the romance never takes over the storyline. The author keeps it on the fringes but hints at more in the future between the two characters. I’m looking forward to reading what new danger Miranda will encounter with future books.