Book Review: Draw and Order by Cheryl Hollon
In backcountry Kentucky, artist Miranda Trent has inherited her uncle’s property… on the condition she gets his moonshine distillery up and running again. Getting all the equipment arranged and jumping through hoops of red tape to get the distillery licensed is tricky and not cheap, so she’s running Paint and Shine tours, taking hikers to scenic spots and giving them art lessons, occasionally helped out by her love interest, forest ranger Austin. The book starts when Miranda and a painting group stumble across a skeleton… which turns out to belong to a cousin of Miranda’s who went missing five years earlier.
This seems like a fairly massive coincidence, and it’s not the only one in this book, as it turns out her cousin was a member of the very same adventure group Miranda was out with on the day they stumbled over the body. There are a couple of really puzzling things that happen, like sabotage on Miranda’s property, which seem totally pointless since even if Miranda stopped asking questions, the police still were. There’s also an odd sub plot about a semi-homeless handyman Miranda employs to fix her barn roof which he keeps stuffing up.
This is an intriguing mystery; we get to know a lot about the victim as Miranda starts off by delving into his past to try and work out what motive someone would have had for killing him. The problem is that there is an awful lot of the book that is not devoted to the mystery, with subplots galore going on. Miranda’s romance with Austin is barely hinted at and certainly didn’t make any forward progress as Miranda seemed to spend most of her time cooking with her mother when she wasn’t working. About the only thing Miranda and Austin did together was research possible suspects, about as unromantic a date as it’s possible to imagine.
I liked the location, the snippets of history, Miranda working to get her distillery up and running, and a lot of other things. But there did seem to be an awful lot of waffle and filler to make up the word count. And I’m not all that keen on the last 5% of any given cozy mystery with culinary themes being made up of recipes, either. Three stars, but I’d have liked it a lot better if about 25% of it was cut out.
Draw and Order is available now.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.