Fiddling with Fate By Diane Kelly: Review/Giveaway/Guest Post

Apr 22, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow & Diane Kelly

This week we have a review of the latest mystery by Diane Kelly, along with a fun guest post by Diane about the music connection to her books. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.

Fiddling with Fate: A Southern Homebrew Mystery by Diane Kelly
Review by Cynthia Chow

After watching the increasingly popular Bootlegging Brothers perform at the Hamilton County Bluegrass Festival, Hattie Hayes gets the brilliant idea to have the bluegrass band record a commercial jingle promoting her family’s Moonshine Shack. After minimal haggling over the fee, the three brothers agree to $1000 which still has Brody Sheridan grumbling over the details. Their catchy fifteen-second ditty proves to be popular when played over the radio, and Hattie is further delighted to promote the Moonshine Shack in a collaboration with River Pearl Vineyard for a Wine and ‘Shine event promoting a night of bluegrass music, wine, and moonshine. At first everything seems to be a success, especially when Garth Sheridan performs with a Moonshine Shack jug after his jug music instrument breaks. Unfortunately, it’s the same jug that is later used to bash Brody over the head, with his body left behind in the River Pearl Winery vineyard.

Not wanting her Granddaddy’s Ole-Timey Corn Liquor to be known as the “murder moonshine,” Hattie begins investigating who used her moonshine jug as a weapon. It turns out that she wasn’t the only one to experience Brody’s haggling and argument over contract agreements, and the one who may have taken most of his ire being his ex-wife. Camille’s new husband Tate Hutchinson was also on the vineyard grounds when Brody was killed, so he will join a suspect list that includes disgruntled business partners and even his own brothers. Accompanying Hattie on tastings and vineyard visits is her Chattanooga Police Officer Marlon Landers, a handsome horse-riding patrolman whose longtime family rivalry with Hattie’s bootlegging relatives has finally come to an end. Hattie’s childhood besties are willing accomplices in her endeavors, and there’s no keeping her grandfather uninvolved even if the local ladies have him busy with their demands for his attention.

This third in the series continues to delight readers with fascinating details and tantalizing descriptions of legal moonshine, even including recipes for an aptly named “Sucker Punch” beverage included in the end. Hattie’s old-fashioned name has the young woman fitting right into the Tennessee setting that blends southern traditions with Millennial social media trends. The reliably entertaining author of a multitude of very funny, often animal-centric novels delivers another fun mystery full of romance, humor, and charming family interactions. Readers looking for a sweet Southern mystery full of sass, wry humor, and a ton of moonshine lore will find everything they need in this extremely satisfying new read.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Stories in Song
By Diane Kelly

When I was a preteen, I enjoyed writing poetry in spiral notebooks I bought at the local drugstore. I didn’t actually call what I wrote poetry, though. I referred to the words as song lyrics because that sounded cooler to me at the time. Song lyrics can be funny, touching, sad, inspiring, mood-altering, and meaningful. We have songs that lift our hearts and spirits, songs we like to sing for inspiration, maybe even songs that we like to listen to when we are upset or angry to help us get over it or maybe even fuel our fire.

Diane Kelly and Fritz

When I lived in Nashville from 2014 to 2016, I was fortunate to meet a wonderful woman named Carole who is a talented songwriter. My friend Paula (the inspiration behind my House Flipper series) introduced us. Carole convinced me that I should attend the Smoky Mountains Songwriters festival with her and sign up for a co-writing session. I’m so glad I did! Writing a song with other people was such a fun creative process, and the professional songwriters who led our session were some pretty big names in the country music industry – Bill Whyte and Steve Dean. I was amazed at how accessible they were. We wrote two songs together. The first was called “All You Need is a River”, a relaxing ballad about taking life slow and easy. The other was a sweet and subtly funny song written from a parent’s point of view, giving advice to their child. It was called “Don’t Forget the Skeeter Spray.”

Given my interest in songwriting, it’s probably no surprise that singer-songwriters feature in several of my books. The first was Death, Taxes, and Silver Spurs, in which federal agent Tara Holloway went after country-western sensation Brazos Rivers for failing to pay his taxes. Her case against her celebrity crush got a little complicated when she couldn’t stop fan-girling over him. In Murder With a View, an up-and-coming country star named Beckett Morgan is found dead in the old motel that carpenter Whitney Whitaker is remodeling with her cousin Buck. And now, in my latest release Fiddling With Fate, a bluegrass singer meets his maker shortly after recording a jingle for The Moonshine Shack, the shop operated by modern-day moonshiner Hattie Hayes.

I had a lot of fun coming up with song lyrics to put in these books. I especially enjoyed featuring a bluegrass band called the Bootlegging Brothers in Fiddling With Fate because the musical genre is so lively. Many bluegrass songs tell a story, often a funny one. I love the homespun instruments used in bluegrass bands, too. The washboard. Stovepipe. Spoons. It’s such a down-to-earth musical genre. I came about my love of bluegrass naturally. It must be in my southern genes. My granddad’s favorite song was “The Wabash Cannonball.” You can enjoy a version by Roy Acuff here:

Are you a fan of bluegrass? What are your favorite songs and singers?

To enter to win a copy of Fiddling with Fate, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “fiddling,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 29, 2023. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address so we know where to send the book if you win–we will not use it for any other purposes. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode went up this week.

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the Amazon link. You can also click here to purchase the book.

A former tax advisor, Diane Kelly inadvertently worked with white-collar criminals more than once. Lest she end up in an orange jumpsuit, Diane decided self-employment would be a good idea. Her fingers hit the keyboard and thus began her “Death and Taxes” romantic mystery series. A graduate of her hometown’s Citizen Police Academy, Diane Kelly also writes the hilarious Paw Enforcement K-9 series, the Busted female motorcycle cop series, the House Flipper series, the Southern Homebrew moonshine series, and the Mountain Lodge Mysteries series.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. I just recently found Diane’s series and love them.
    Can’t wait to get caught up with this episode.
    thanks. txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

  2. Sounds interesting! Count em in!

  3. Sounds good! I would love a chance to win Fiddling with Fate! My daughter plays violin in her high school orchestra and she also plays the fiddle.

  4. Sounds like an awesome series. Looking forward to starting the series.

  5. I do like bluegrass music. Fiddling with Fate: A Southern Homebrew Mystery by Diane Kelly sounds like a mystery that will charm readers.

  6. Love Diane! She is so sweet!

  7. We have a winner!


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