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Murder Ballad Blues: A Mystery Novel by Lynda McDaniel

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Set in the little fictional mountain town of Laurel Falls, North Carolina, this is the fourth book in the author’s Appalachian Mountain Mysteries Series, but it can easily be read as a stand-alone novel. Each chapter is narrated by a particular character. Most often the narrator is Abit Bradshaw, a mandolin player with the Rollin’ Ramblers bluegrass band and a native of the town. The other primary character/narrator is Della Kincaid, a former crime reporter in Washington, D. C., who is investigating a fraud case. When murders happen, and it seems it must be a serial killer, the FBI gets involved, and the question becomes whether they will take seriously what Abit and Della have dug up about the case before it is too late. “The emotional components of each character are thoroughly explored as they fight anger, loneliness, loss, and helpless feelings in the course of their choices. The characters come alive not because of the mystery's overlay, but because McDaniel takes the time to explore the wellsprings of their pasts and their reactions to adversity. What lends faith and encouragement in the face of devastation, and what influences create the type of 'justice' that ties into a killer's logical process and mindset? These and other questions place these events above and beyond a simple 'whodunnit' mystery.” – The Midwest Review. “Readers looking for a murder mystery strongly centered in regional culture, the different lives and focus of two equally powerful investigators, and a puzzle that draws them into far more than a singular investigation will relish this story's superior tension. Its sense of place and people in a cat-and-mouse game that unfolds over the course of a riveting mystery is designed to keep readers on their toes and guessing about the outcome to the end.” --Diane Donovan. The author grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and now lives in Santa Rosa, California, but has lived all over the country, including briefly in the North Carolina mountains where she first started her writing career that now includes over a thousand magazine articles and 18 books. So far, her non-fiction books have been more successful than her fiction.

Santa Rosa, California: Lynda McDaniel Books: 2020. 332 pages. Trade paperback.