Fiddling with Fate

Southern Homebrew Mystery #3

By Diane Kelly

ISBN 9780593333266

Author Website: dianekelly(.)com

Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie


When a local bluegrass musician disappears and a jug of her shop’s corn liquor is implicated, moonshiner Hattie Hayes must stop further trouble from brewing in this delightful cozy mystery series.

It’s late August in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and moonshiner Hattie Hayes has collaborated to serve her moonshine at a nearby vineyard for a Wine and ‘Shine event. Not only is this an opportunity for Hattie to gain more moonshine fans, but she’s also excited to see the Bootlegging Brothers, a popular bluegrass band. But not every attendee is looking for harmony, and when one of the brothers disappears after the event and is presumed dead, Hattie realizes her grace note event has suddenly turned more sour than her mash.

Unearthing what happened to the missing musician is more difficult than Hattie first expected, and when Hattie’s moonshine is tied to the crime, there’s no time to fiddle around. She has to step up to solve the case. Luckily, Hattie’s cool head and quick mind help her understand that when investigating a musical crime, always stay sharp. (Goodreads)


It was a delight to visit Hattie and her Moonshine Shack in Chattanooga again! We meet one of the hottest rising bands in town, the Bootlegging Brothers, one of whom wants to give Hattie’s boyfriend, Marlon, some serious competition. This mystery was well written with a healthy dose of humor, and I was just as stumped as Hattie, Ace, and Marlon with regards to who the bad guy was.

Granddaddy taught Hattie everything he knows about making ‘shine. He, his friends at the retirement home, Hattie, and best friends Kiki and Kate are excited about the growth of her store after just a short time in business. Hattie’s portable moonshine bar, a repurposed single horse trailer, makes its debut at the Hamilton County Bluegrass Festival. Afterwards, she initiated a collaboration that could change the course of her business.

Granddaddy went to the festival with Hattie and Kiki, as he loves being involved with the business. Hattie was happy that their booth was close to the stage and would get much exposure. When Garth, one of the Bootlegging Brothers, accidentally dropped and smashed one of his instruments getting on stage, he was sure he wouldn’t be playing the jug that night. Hattie came to the rescue when she emptied one of Grandaddy’s Ole Timey Corn Liquor jugs and gave it to him to play. Granddaddy was not happy to see the good liquor dumped out, but oh, the business it resulted in!

The band and Hattie worked out a deal of sorts. The three brothers, Brody, Josh, and Garth, would sing a jingle for her on the 15-second recording time she purchased at the radio station. Garth wrote the perfect jingle, the brothers met her at the station, and Brody tried to get out of the deal until her cash payment got his fingers strumming again.

Garth was interested in Hattie, but she and Marlon are an item. The mounted police officer was everything she wanted in a boyfriend. Garth told Hattie they would be playing at the River Pearl Vineyard and Winery for the next few Saturday nights, and she was welcome to hear them if she was free. She talked with the owner of the winery, Pearl, and they scheduled a joint event Saturday night called Wine and ‘Shine, giving customers the option of specialty wine or moonshine beverages.

Saturday night was successful for both Pearl and Hattie but resulted in a huge change to the band. Hattie had been in her van to get more stock and overheard Brody arguing with his brothers and his ex-wife’s husband, and it wasn’t pretty. Pearl’s husband broke up the heated discussion, and the band finished the night to rousing applause.

A couple days later, Marlon came to see Hattie. Brody had not been seen since Saturday night. When he didn’t go to work or rehearsal, Garth reported him missing. She told Marlon what she saw and heard Saturday, and Ace, an excellent detective, came to see Hattie. She had helped them solve cases in the past, and what she recalled eventually led to the fiddler’s remains. Unfortunately, the weapon tied Brody’s death was also tied to the Moonshine Shack. Once again, her business was in the news, and not in a good way.

I enjoyed seeing Hattie, Granddaddy, Marlon, and best friends Kiki and Kate again! Hattie and Granddaddy are the heart of the series. When he and several other residents from the retirement home attended Wine and ‘Shine, the octogenarian and his friends demonstrate that they still have enough joie de vivre to share. I learn more about the family and friends each time. They and the one-time or minor characters are described so well I can almost see and hear them.

Hattie wants to clear her business of passively contributing to a murder and get justice for Brody’s family. It is challenging to find the real killer of a man who irritated everyone he met, but the girls help Hattie whenever they are available. There were enough twists and turns to rival the mountain road Hattie takes to her cabin, each one holding an element of danger. I was almost positive who didn’t kill Brody, and can still remember the scene in which I guessed who did. I was satisfied with the ending overall with a couple minor exceptions, and no loose ends remained. I highly recommend this mystery and the rest of the series!