Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Paint & Shine Mystery #1

Still Knife Painting

Rate this book
Miranda Trent has set up a sweet life in a scenic corner of Appalachia--until she stumbles across the trail of a killer . . .

After inheriting her uncle's Red River Gorge homestead in Eastern Kentucky--smack dab in the middle of the Daniel Boone National Forest--Miranda comes up with a perfect business plan for summer tourists: pairing outdoor painting classes with sips of local moonshine, followed by a mouthwatering sampler of the best in southern cooking.

To Miranda's delight, Paint & Shine is a total success--until someone kills the cook. As the town's outsider, suspicion naturally falls on Miranda. Murdering the best biscuit baker of Red River Gorge is a high crime in these parts. Miranda will have to prove her innocence before she's moved from farmhouse to jail cell faster than she can say "white lightning" . . .

316 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published June 30, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Cheryl Hollon

10 books527 followers
Cheryl Hollon writes full time after she left an engineering career of designing and building military flight simulators in amazing countries such as England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and India. Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, she combines her love of writing with a passion for creating glass art. In the small glass studio behind their St. Petersburg, FL, 1920's craftsman bungalow, Cheryl and her husband design, create, and produce fused glass, stained glass and painted glass artworks.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
117 (24%)
4 stars
173 (36%)
3 stars
129 (27%)
2 stars
46 (9%)
1 star
12 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 188 reviews
Profile Image for Natalia  R.
283 reviews159 followers
June 10, 2020
3.5 stars

Still Knife Painting is the first book in Cheryl Hollon's A Paint and Shine Mystery series. It follows Miranda Trent, who has recently moved from New York to eastern Kentucky after inheriting her uncle's farmhouse. She starts a business called Paint and Shine, where she takes tourists on a hike in the forest to paint, then back to her farmhouse for a home-cooked meal and a moonshine tasting. Many in the area are not fond of moonshine, including her cook, Mrs. Childers. When Mrs. Childers is found dead in Miranda's Kitchen, she immediately becomes the main suspect. With the help of a handsome forest ranger named Austin Morgan, Miranda is determined to clear her name and save her business.

I thought this was a promising start to a new series. The premise is intriguing, and I loved the rural countryside setting and the side characters, including Austin and Doris Ann. However, I had mixed feelings about the main character, Miranda. For the most part, I thought she was hardworking, determined, and clearly passionate about her work, but her tendency to snap at people and her rude behavior at times made it hard for me to warm up to her. The mystery was cleverly plotted, with plenty of suspects and red herrings to throw readers off the scent. The killer's identity came as a surprise to me.
Overall, this was a fun read. It didn't grab me as much as I would have liked but I'm definitely interested enough to continue on with the series.

Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,157 reviews1,516 followers
July 8, 2020
Still Knife Painting by Cheryl Hollon is the first book of the new cozy A Paint and Shine Mystery series. Each of these books in the series will contain it’s own mystery to be solved without any major cliffhangers being left so all will be able to be read as a standalone if choosing to do so.

The Paint and Shine Mystery series takes place in a small town in Eastern Kentucky that is in the middle of the Daniel Boone National Forest. Miranda Trent has moved to Kentucky from New York after she inherited her uncle’s Red River Gorge homestead.

Looking for a new line of work and being an artist herself Miranda comes up with the idea for Paint and Shine tours. She will take students to a scenic local for a painting lesson then return to her homestead for a little local moonshine. Unfortunately for Miranda her business hits a roadblock when a murder takes place.

For myself one of my biggest enjoyments as a reader is being whisked off to wonderful locations and falling in love with the settings. A part of this love is also warming up to the characters that help make the setting shine and in the Paint and Shine Mystery series I didn’t find myself wowed by the characters or setting. Some of the views by the town and main character were a turn off to me so this really wasn’t a favorite series of mine.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for beachbum bookworm.
351 reviews331 followers
November 17, 2020
Oh my gosh! This book was a bright start to a new series!! It was so much fun. I loved the idea of a paint and shine tour...where do I sign up? The author "painted" a beautiful description of the Daniel Boone national forest. I enjoyed the small town tight knit community. The mystery was entertaining, and there were plenty of zigzags that kept me guessing. I will say I did think Miranda came across as somewhat entitled. She expected a lot from a new community that she herself barely engaged in. She also seemed disrespectful to townsfolk where she wants to make a home and business in.
This book really shined!
Profile Image for Bonnie DeMoss.
787 reviews89 followers
June 16, 2020
Still Knife Painting is a new series about Miranda Trent, who has inherited her Uncle’s homestead in Kentucky, in the heart of the Daniel Boone National Forest. She starts a unique business for tourists called Paint ’n Shine, providing a package which includes a scenic painting class, a Southern dinner, and a moonshine tasting.

I was excited to read this because like the protagonist, Miranda, I lived elsewhere, but spent all my summers in the mountains with my relatives, who were Appalachian locals (in my case from the mountains of North Carolina). Unfortunately my expectations for this book fell far short. The main character Miranda is very unlikeable. Miranda is supposed to be from a local family, even though she has been living in New York, so she should have some empathy and understanding for the locals. Instead she looks down on them and is downright rude at times. Her thoughts are shown in italics, and are usually something mean about others. I really hated the approach of presenting her thoughts in italics, because whenever I saw italics coming up, I knew it was probably going to be something cruel or condescending.

Then there were the ridiculous stereotypes presented in this book. When the Sheriff’s Deputy showed up and is described as a “Barney Fife,” I rolled my eyes back in my head. Then he passed out at a crime scene. Too cheesy. Too ridiculous. Mountain people are not stupid. They are not Barney Fife. The police do not pass out at the scene of a crime. I really wanted to put the book down at that point.

In addition, she should have some understanding of the rich culture and traditions of the locals. Very little of that is brought forth. Instead she is rude, condescending, and standoffish with the locals. As someone whose families are locals, Miranda should at least have been sharing a lot more of the cultural stories and traditions of the area. Miranda is starting a business involving art, distilling moonshine, and cooking, but she doesn’t really spend much time tying that in with the rich history of each of these things in the mountains. We could have learned something in this book besides how the main character is annoyed and affronted by everyone and everything. A lot of potential was lost in this series. Her constant denigration of the locals really ticked me off. I know the locals in my mountain town to be loving, smart, resourceful, and talented. The book’s presentation of mountain locals as stupid, inconsiderate people who supposedly tried to limit Miranda’s art is really offensive.

And by the way, young people are taught to say “yes Ma’am” and “Yes Sir” in the South. It’s automatic. This is not an “insider/outsider” thing and should not have annoyed Miranda. After spending all her summers in this area, she should have known this. Miranda spent a lot of time complaining about the insider/outsider perception in the mountains. Although there is some of that, nobody in any town anywhere is going to open up to a rude person who looks down on others. At the same time she is complaining about the insider/outsider perception, she complains that mountain people share too much of their personal lives with her! This is contradictory.

There is no real strong cast of characters as there would be in a small town. Just another of many disappointments. None of the characters are memorable for me except Miranda, and that is only because of her horrible personality.

What started out as a series with potential fell flat for me. I will not be interested in reading anymore of these books. I cannot find anything likable about the main character. I was excited to see a series set in the Appalachian Mountains. That excitement faded pretty quickly.

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley. My review is voluntary.
Profile Image for Juli.
1,879 reviews473 followers
June 21, 2020
Miranda Trent is an artist. She loves the house she inherited from her uncle. It's right in the middle of Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky. Her new business -- Paint & Shine -- caters to tourists. It mixes cultural adventure tour, painting class, fine dining and moonshine tasting into a unique experience for visitors to Red River Gorge. Things are going perfectly until.....the murder.

This book is a promising start to a new cozy series! I enjoyed the characters, the setting and the premise. A cultural adventure tour company that mixes art with local cuisine is an interesting premise! I wish Paint & Shine was a real business -- I would drive to Kentucky to join in! I think I would pass on the moonshine part -- but the rest sounded like a lot of fun (minus the dead body, of course).

The mystery moved along at a good pace. There was a nice mix of character/setting development and sleuthing. There wasn't a long wait before the dead body appeared and things heated up for Miranda. Miranda is a strong person....an intelligent and capable main character.

Fun, enjoyable cozy mystery...plus yummy recipes at the back of the book!

I will definitely be reading more of this new series. Great start!!

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Kensington. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
Profile Image for Paula Adams.
227 reviews79 followers
March 28, 2022
Miranda has moved into her inherited property left to her by an uncle that she used to spend summers with on the farm in Kentucky after having an artists life in Manhattan. She has come up with an idea for a business, to teach tourists painting of the mountains that they take hike to and then have an authentic southern meal with moonshine tastings. There is a hunky park ranger that stops by and Miranda is suddenly speechless. He finally gets through to her and explains that he could give a brief history of the area to her guests and she then invited him back for the meal. Miranda has an argument with one of the cooks about the moonshine. The cook is very religious and against the evils of liquor. Everyone can hear them yelling at each other. Miranda walks away to check on her guests when they hear a scream. The other cook has come back into the kitchen to find the other on the floor surrounded by blood.

There is a house full of suspects but Miranda was heard by all having the argument so she is suspect number 1. She lives in boonies so cell service is very spotty and someone went down the street to someone who had a landline to call 911.

I can't wait to read book 2 in the series.
Profile Image for JoAnne McMaster (Any Good Book).
1,248 reviews19 followers
December 18, 2020
When Miranda Trent discovers she's been left her Uncle Gene's farmhouse and belongings in Eastern Kentucky, she's surprised as can be. But then she decides it can be an opportunity for her to start her own business, and not have to struggle to make it as an artist. She opens Paint & Shine, where people can learn to paint and then return to her farmhouse for an authentic country meal, accompanied by moonshine tastes for each course. However, not everyone is glad she's starting her business, since a lot of people are still against consuming alcohol in this town.

The first outing seems to go well, with six customers who are enjoying it. But when they go back to the farmhouse, Miranda has an argument with one of the cooks, Mrs. Childers; and when Miranda goes to check on the meal a few minutes later, she finds the woman lying on her kitchen floor, stabbed with a butcher knife.

Now Miranda's business is dwindling, and she's the main suspect in the murder. If she's going to survive -- and keep the farmhouse and land -- she needs to find out who killed the woman and why. But only if she can stay alive long enough to do so...

This is the first in a new series, and I really enjoyed it. There were only a few things that bothered me, so I'll get those out of the way first. I would have liked to know why Miranda didn't confront the reporter after the newspaper came out, but she ignored it, which couldn't be a good thing in anyone's book; she didn't even mention it to Austin, which I thought she at least might have done. Then, she stated how Austin was going to stay at her place while a killer was on the loose, but we never saw any indication of this happening, so I'd like to know if he did or not. The first deputy who passed out seemed ridiculous -- if you're going to pass out seeing a dead body, you need to find another profession -- I can't even imagine an officer like that stopping people to give them tickets.

I also didn't get the scene between Dan and Miranda when she grabbed at him; it seemed out of character for the person she was starting to be portrayed as, since she never acted this way and the comment he made shouldn't have set her off like that. But as Miranda states as how she's an introvert it didn't make sense; I am too, and I would never react this way to anyone. I also control my tongue a lot better, since I'd rather not draw attention to myself.

Aside from that, I liked some of the secondary characters. Mrs. Hobb grew on me early even though she's not in the book much, and I hope to see more of her in the next one. I also like the idea that our protagonist isn't mooning over a police detective, which usually happens in most cozies. Since I realize this is the first in the series, hopefully there will be more character development of Miranda and the others in the next one.

The plot is written well, and it's an interesting decision to make her an artist who will also offer moonshine from a local distillery instead of wine pairings. While I've never heard of this, that's probably because I'm a city girl through and through. We don't get a lot of descriptions of the countryside, but we do get some, and I look forward to learning more about the area in future books.

While I guessed the murderer early on (I read a lot of mysteries), I enjoyed moving along with Miranda as she put the pieces together and discovered the reason for the murder. While it was sad, we can't ever decipher motives from a killer or the future victim that they face. Sad indeed, but believable just the same. I did like the ending and look forward to the next in the series. Recommended.

I was given an advance copy from the author and publisher but this in no way influenced my review.
Profile Image for Leslie aka StoreyBook Reviews.
2,364 reviews119 followers
July 6, 2020
Merriment, Moonshine, and Murder - not exactly what you expect to find on a cultural tour in Kentucky.

This is a new series and I found it to be intriguing.  Set in Kentucky near the Daniel Boone National Park, I could imagine the hikes they took to Lover's Leap, the small town with nosy citizens, properties set apart where cell service was sparse, and fascinating relationships between the various characters.  I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere with Miranda and the rest of the gang.  I could picture the mountains, the forest, and the small town with a few shops and businesses to frequent.  I really liked Miranda's business - Paint & Shine.  I don't know a lot about painting or moonshine but this is a tour I would check out.

The mystery is who killed Mrs. Childers and why.  Miranda had an argument with her (and maybe a few others) about serving moonshine and educating guests about its history.  While some of those might have had personal issues with alcohol, it surprised me how close minded some of these people were in reality.  The potential pool of killers is small, but who would have a motive to kill her?  When the truth is revealed, it was not surprising, but at the same time, it was amazing that a secret could be kept for all those years.  I suspected the killer but had no idea why this character would want to kill anyone.

The characters provided twists to the story and added background.  While Miranda might have visited the town growing up, she had a lot to learn about her uncle's connection to the town and how these people played into his life and even Miranda's.  I chuckled at the one police officer that had a weak stomach and was a bit of a bumbling character.  Not knowing much about the police in Kentucky, the tension between the Lexington police and those in the sheriff's department in Wolfe County, was based on an old rivalry.  This could cause some issues in getting murders solved if there is not a common desire to work together.

I think there might be the beginning of a love interest for Miranda with Austin, the local Forest Ranger.  He seems very level headed and would be a good balancing character for Miranda.

Overall a good start to a new series and I look forward to seeing what develops next. 
93 reviews
June 21, 2020
Still Knife Painting is the first book in Cheryl Hollon's "A Paint & Shine Mystery" series. In it, we meet Miranda Tolson, who has recently inherited her uncle's Eastern Kentucky farmhouse. She starts a "Paint & Shine" business where tourists are guided on a hike to a scenic overlook where Miranda teaches them to paint the view, and then they are treated to a authentic, homemade meal with moonshine pairings. Unfortunately for Miranda, her first day of business doesn't go as planned when the cook of that homemade meal is murdered. In order to save her business and clear her name, Miranda must find the murderer.

Hollon clearly knows how to write a proper mystery as the whodunit part of the book is fine. There are several suspects and some red herrings. The plot moves along swiftly and kept me guessing.

I was really excited about the premise of this book. I love the South and used to live there. However, I ended up sorely disappointed. I feel Hollon's characterization of the local citizens and culture of Eastern Kentucky is unfair and stereotypical. There were moments when I was reading where I out and out cringed at both Miranda's thoughts about and treatment of the locals. Hollon should be downright embarrassed by some of the the insensitive and narrow-minded things in this book.

With this series, Hollon has an opportunity to celebrate the rich culture and heritage of the region. If there is a second book, I truly hope she takes time to do more research so that the real spirit of the area can come alive in future books instead of the dangerous cliches that are presented in this one.
Profile Image for Shawna Shaheen.
324 reviews3 followers
July 2, 2021
Miranda inherited her uncle Gene farmhouse in Kentucky. She would always visit her uncle there. She lives in New York and now she wants to teach Art Classes and all the people that are registered will go to her farmhouse have supper from her cooks Mrs. Childers and Mabel and pair it with moonshine. People in town that were there did not like that she was having a man named Dan sampling moonshine at the farm house. Her 6 people showed up the first session and Miranda asked the Ranger Austin to talk about the history of Daniel Boone National Forest Park. Miranda wanted the classes there for beautiful nature. It went well but when they went to farm house to have dinner and moonshine. Mrs Childlers the cook decided to make a different meal. Miranda did not like that. And the cook Mrs. Childers made it clear she could not stand that Miranda was going to serve moonshine . She was a Christian lady. But Miranda told her all this before hand. Now Mrs. Childers wanted to complain about so she will loose licence. Dan the man that distilled the moonshine Was running late. Miranda thought it was becoming a disaster her first time trying to set what She wanted to do. But then the icing on the 🎂was that Mrs. Childers got killed. Was it an outsider or someone in her group of people that she gave lessons to. I wanted to read these books because the main character Miranda is into portrait Art from faces to scenes. And I color a lot of portrait art. It is cool how Miranda and I know a lot of Artists memorize the faces of have faces in their minds they want to draw. But it was an alright story. But not as much about her Art that I would of like to know. I might read 2nd book
Profile Image for Peggy R.
1,012 reviews67 followers
May 1, 2020
I am a fan of the Webb Glass Shop Mystery series by this author so it was natural for me to take a chance on this first book in her new Paint and Shine Mystery series. I wasn't a bad start to this new series. I liked Miranda and the secondary cast of characters. Although, at times throughout the story they felt a little flat or one dimensional, so I would love to see more character development. The pace of the story was a bit slow and there were a few times where I felt the story dragged a bit. However, it's a balancing act when writing the first book in a new series to provide the reader with the background of the characters but not too much. I think the setting was unique as well as the part of the story dealing with moonshine and Miranda's attempt to set up her own small-batch operations.

The mystery was decent. I guessed the identity of the killer early but it took me a while to figure out the character's motive. That said, it didn't ruin the reading experience because 1) it's rare that I guess right and 2) usually when I'm confident it turns out I'm wrong.

All in all, it was a solid start to a new series. I would like to see more character development and a quicker pace for the next book in the series.

I voluntarily read a digital advanced review copy provided to me by the publisher Kensington through Netgalley. The opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Jodi.
377 reviews
September 22, 2020
If the author’s goal was to create an incredibly unlikeable mc, then she succeeded. Miranda was unequivocally the worst person I’ve ever read. Her attitude was awful for someone just starting out in a new venture. And about that, she starts a business with no background or basic research, then gets upset when people don’t jump at the chance to paint and eat in a rundown farmhouse. Heck, I even felt bad for the dog. He spent most of the book either asleep or in his crate. Won’t be reading any more installments.
343 reviews8 followers
April 23, 2020
This was the first book in a new series. It really didn't work for me. I found the characters to be off-putting and strange. I kept thinking they were a parody of hillbillies, especially when the deputy passed out. Everything seemed a stretch to me and forced. I just really could not connect with any of the book.
Profile Image for Kristina.
3,439 reviews59 followers
June 30, 2020
Still Knife Painting by Cheryl Hollon has classical portrait artist, Miranda making changes to her life. Miranda Trent has inherited her uncle’s farmhouse in Kentucky where she starts Paint & Shine. Paint & Shine involves a hike in the Daniel Boone National Forest to Lover’s Leap where they have a plein air painting class. Miranda then transports the group to her farmhouse for a Southern meal where each course is paired with moonshine. Her first group is a success until the cook, Mrs. Naomi Childers turns up dead in the kitchen. When Miranda finds herself on the suspect list, she begins nosing around and asking questions. Miranda must evade the police and someone intent on burning down her farmhouse. Still Knife Painting is the debut of A Paint and Shine Mystery series. I like the premise of this new fetching cozy mystery series. The author took the time to introduce the characters and set the stage for the series. I enjoyed the rich descriptions of Kentucky and Miranda’s farmhouse (a Sears & Roebuck kit home). I had mixed feelings regarding Miranda. She was a hard worker and a determined woman who was passionate about her art and moonshine. She is an observant person which is helpful to the investigation. Miranda, though, could be snappish at times and a little rude. I must give her the benefit of the doubt since Miranda is starting a new business, found a dead woman in her kitchen, experiencing financial difficulties, and found herself a suspect in Naomi’s murder. I found myself liking her more at the end. Miranda is a flawed individual which makes her realistic along with the other characters in this cozy mystery. I just loved her adorable puppy, Sandy. There is humor sprinkled throughout the story and I just loved the Barney Fife references. The mystery was interesting with multiple suspects and subtle clues. I was able to identify the guilty party early in the story, but I had no clue as to why. I liked following Miranda as she asked questions and dug for clues. Wolfe County Sheriff Richard Larson and his wife, Felicia who is the county coroner are likeable characters. I appreciated that Miranda kept Sheriff Larson up to date. There is a rivalry between Sheriff Larson and Detective Otis E. Peterson from the Lexington Homicide Division. We learn why these two men are at odds with each other. There were some quirky characters like Doris Ann and Officer Gary Spenser. I liked learning about the area as well as the traditions of the people who live there. Southerners have their own way of doing things and gossip flows faster than syrup on hot pancakes. I thought Still Knife Painting was well-written and it moved along at a good pace. I was not a fan of the point-of-view switching from Miranda to other characters because it took me out of the story. I hope we get to learn more about the uncle’s will in the next book. The details were skimpy. Overall, I enjoyed Still Knife Painting and look forward to reading the next book. Still Knife Painting is an engaging new Southern cozy mystery with rampant rumors, plein air painting, cultural cuisine, a killer knife, a precious puppy, and merry moonshine.
Profile Image for Micky Cox.
1,664 reviews16 followers
May 26, 2020
An intriguing new cozy mystery series has the main character, Miranda Trent, setting up a paint and sip excursion business in the remote farmhouse that her uncle left her in the hills of Kentucky. She has a limited amount of time to make a go of it and set up her own distillery or she loses her inheritance. Not everyone is happy that she is highlighting moonshine in her business and when the cook ends up dead in Miranda's kitchen all eyes are on her as the guilty party. I quite liked the premise of the book and the characters of the book are quite well done. There were several loose threads that I am hoping the author intentionally left laying to pick up in the next book, but am surprised that the main character didn't address a few of them in this book especially as she was setting this character up as one who has a tendency to charge forward without thinking things through. It seemed odd that the character would allow the newspaper reporter to go unconfronted about the hatchet job she did or to at least bring it up to the brother who appears to be setting up to be Miranda's love interest. I'm definitely intrigued and curious to see how things develop in the next book!
Profile Image for Carrie Schmidt.
Author 1 book341 followers
July 27, 2020
Still Knife Painting is an engaging start to a new series by Cheryl Hollon! I particularly loved that it’s set in my ‘stompin’ grounds’ as they say down here – and that it’s based on fun experiences the author had in this part of Kentucky as a child (as discussed in the author note that begins the book). Something about that kind of connection makes the book even cozier right from the outset. The characters are quintessential to this genre – delightfully quirky enough to make you love them but suspiciously quirky enough to keep them on your ‘potential culprit’ list. Miranda took a bit of warming up to, but I’m intrigued to see where Hollon takes this character through the rest of the series. Well-written and entertaining, this read is a fun way to spend a weekend!

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book)

first seen at Reading Is My SuperPower
Profile Image for Amy.
492 reviews4 followers
May 27, 2020
I really enjoyed all of the author's stained glass series so I was excited to read the first book in this series. Set in Eastern Kentucky, Miranda Trent's business model of painting in the Daniel Boone forest, serving an authentic Southern meal and pairing each course with a moonshine provided by a local distiller is a complicated business plan relying on many external factors to be successful. I admired her grit and determination to continue on after the cook is found dead in the kitchen. She is doing her best to carry out the vision of her late uncle, who bequest the home and acreage to her. The pacing was a bit off at times and the feud between the law enforcement agencies seemed exaggerated . However, I was intrigued by the premise of the series and would definitely read the next book in the series. I also appreciated Ms. Hollon's introduction and sharing her childhood memories to the area. It made me more invested in the book because of that personal connection.

Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington for an ARC. My review is voluntary.
Profile Image for Tari.
2,233 reviews71 followers
July 1, 2020
I really liked the idea of someone doing trails, painting and Southern cooking as a type of adventure tour. I'm not sure I'd be thrilled with the trail idea or the moonshine tasting (I've tried it in Tennessee and don't care for it), but the painting sounds fun along with the authentic Southern meal. I liked Miranda a lot but at times, I wondered if she was thinking straight. Her little pup sounded adorable, and I liked the secondary characters of Austin (oh yeah!), Mrs. Hobb--and Sheriff Larson grew on me after a little bit.

I thought I guessed the killer but it was just another red herring. I kind of figured the showdown might happen when it did. It was short but very good. I always enjoy when there's a wrap-up at the end which in this book took place after the murdered woman's funeral. There was a little side mystery that got its answer at this time too. I'll definitely be interested in reading the next book. I think this idea has lots of potential, and what a great setting for lots of different mysteries.
Profile Image for Lola.
1,521 reviews243 followers
June 18, 2020
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley and voluntarily reviewed it.

I've enjoyed this author's other series and was excited to hear about this new series. I think this was a solid introduction to this new series, but it did feel very much like an introduction book as well and I hope the series gets even better from now onward now that we're introduced to the main character, location and some of the side characters. I liked the set-up for this one with the painting theme and rural location.

The mystery didn't fully grip me and I wasn't as invested as i would've liked. There seemed to be plenty of suspects, but for some reason I managed to guess the murderer correctly from the start. The mystery felt pretty straightforward. There is some investigating, but there weren't as many twist and turns. There were some reveals I hadn't expected and I couldn't figure out the motive. The motive is something you only find out later in the book. I thought the mystery was a bit slow to progress as it was intermingled with the other aspects of this book and this is a first book in the series so it had a lot of introducing to do as well. I did like how Miranda, the main character, got involved in the mystery in a way that makes sense. Although the book did suffer from incompetent police agents a bit, which is a trope that i feel is a bit overdone. The county sheriff seemed competent enough, but the team from Lexington that got involved was pretty incompetent, so I am hoping we see more of the local sheriff and less from the Lexington people in future books.

I liked getting to know Miranda. She seemed to care about the farmhouse and wanted to stay there and make her new business a success. I would like to get to know her a bit better, but so far I liked her. She was determined to clear her name and made the best of her business. She has an interesting mix of outsider and insider due to which she doesn't fully fit in yet, but does have some unique perspective on things. I hope to see more of her painting and her interest in moonshine in the future books as there wasn't as much of that in this book. I liked the idea of her culture tours and how she incorporated painting, eating and drinking in them.

There are some side character we get introduced to in this book, some of them are clients and tourist from other parts. Some others are local characters and there are some that I expect to see more of in future books. I liked her budding friendship with Austin and even see the potential for a romance there. This book also had a nice rustic country feel and that small town feel.

To summarize: This is a solid start to a new series. I liked the set-up for this series and the focus on painting and Miranda's new business. It did feel like a series starter or introduction read at times with how the stage is set for the rest of the series and I think/ hope future books are even better now that part is over. The pace and the mystery felt a bit slow at times. I also managed to guess the murderer correctly from the start and wasn't as invested in the mystery as I would've liked. I was curious about the motive as that's the one thing I couldn't pinpoint and that was a reveal I hadn't guessed. I did like how Miranda got involved in the mystery, but wasn't a fan of the incompetent police officers from Lexington. I liked what we saw of Miranda, the town and the side characters we met so far and I hope to see more of those in future books. I look forward to future books in the series!
Profile Image for The Cozy Review.
523 reviews31 followers
July 23, 2020
The first book in the new art and moonshine based cozy series “A Paint & Shine Mystery,” Still Knife Painting from Kensington Books, written by Cheryl Hollen is out now.

Miranda is a hard character to like. She does not appear to have any empathy for anyone; she is angry at the residents because they object to her providing moonshine to her art students. She is resentful of her inheritance, and most of all, she appears to be more concerned with her income than the murder that took place in her kitchen. Other characters aren’t much better. Even the man who may become Miranda’s love interest has issues.

The setting for this new series is picturesque, yet the descriptions did not go far enough to get the reader invested in the area. Having tourists sign up to take an art class in the forest is a wonderful idea, add in a southern meal, and a moonshine tasting, and you have a recipe made for success. But the cook doesn’t follow the menu and ends up dead in Miranda’s kitchen. Suspects are few, but most are believable. The evidence is a bit flimsy. The killer wasn’t difficult to uncover and was the most enjoyable character in the book.

Unfortunately, I did not find Still Knife Painting to be very enjoyable. I thought the premise of art and moonshine would be interesting, and there were some interesting parts to the story, but overall I couldn’t get past the main character being just a bit too obnoxious. She is portrayed as an introvert, but the truth is more likely that she just doesn’t like people. All of this said I will give book two a try when it comes out.
2,090 reviews41 followers
June 28, 2020
Miranda Tolson left New York City and moved into the rustic farmhouse that she inherited from her Uncle. She has plans to establish a new tourist experience - Paint and Shine. It will combine painting in the Daniel Boone National Forest with a home cooked meal and a tasting of local moonshine. Unfortunately murder puts a damper on her grand opening. Mrs Childers is a powerful member of this close knit community. She continually argues with Miranda over her plan to serve shine. This makes Miranda the prime suspect when she's murdered. Since Miranda spent summers here and hopes it will help her track down the killer. I immediately felt a connection with her. She has spunk and determination. I liked that she won't give up on her dream. This small town has many well hidden secrets. I felt that they were the key to the murder. I hoped that Miranda could get to the truth. Austin, the local Park Ranger, is a valuable ally. He has heard so
much gossip and knows all the family connections. History is important. The small town dynamic add realism to this story. Cheryl Hollon did a wonderful job writing this new series. I couldn't put this book down. The characters are a diverse group who express different points of view which gave me the complete picture of life here. It's rife with gossip and well hidden secrets. I'm anxiously awaiting the next book in this unique series.
I received a copy of this book which I voluntarily read and reviewed. My comments are my honest opinion.

1,572 reviews32 followers
May 18, 2020
I have read and enjoyed Cheryl Hollon's Webb's Glass Shop Mystery Series and was eager to read Still Knife Painting, the first book in her Paint and Shine Mysteries. In this book, Miranda Trent has inherited her uncle's Kentucky farmhouse. She has decided to begin a 3 hour cultural adventure business. She will provide a group painting class at a scenic overlook (Lover's Leap), with a traditional Southern dinner at her farmhouse and conclude with a moonshine lecture with samples presented by a distillery owner. She figured that this was the quickest way to bring in revenue and pay taxes. She has hired Mrs. Childers and Mrs. Hobbs to do the cooking. Miranda's first group outing is going well until Mrs. Childers is discovered dead before the first course is even served! Knowing that the murder will affect her business, she sets out to figure out who the killer is! There are several possible suspects to talk to and she gets help from the local forest ranger, Austin Morgan. I like this new mystery's story line, characters, and Miranda's dog, Sandy. There are some surprises and the promises of more exciting adventures to come!
Profile Image for Linda.
1,842 reviews31 followers
June 30, 2020
I enjoyed this start to the series. I liked the premise for the series, Miranda's tours sound like a lot of fun. What was especially fun for me is that this book isn't set too far from where I live so even though I haven't been quite to that area I was familiar with some of the more regional things and I will be picking up some Ale-8 this weekend at the grocery. The mystery kept me guessing and I was totally off on the motive. This book did seem a little rough around the edges, especially with some scene transitions. It also surprised me when everything had been from Miranda's point of view and all of a sudden I get a chapter from the sheriff's. All in all a lot of fun and I'd be happy to sign up for a Paint & Shine tour. Recipes are included at the end which I am always a fan of. The potato candy seems interesting and I might have to give it a try. There was also a character list at the end which I found odd to be at the end instead of the beginning.
Profile Image for Susan.
2,727 reviews
November 9, 2021
This is my first book by Ms. Hollen. The idea of a hiking, painting, eating tour sounds amazing! Obviously without someone dying halfway through. Though I am not sure how they were logistically able to fit it all in the time allowed, sans murder. While I overall enjoyed the story and the characters, I felt like the story itself was a bit of a mess, somewhat like the protagonist Miranda. She doesn't seem very organized or prepared to run a business and a good portion of the book was her figuring out things she should have done before starting. Was this just an introduction to her? Will we follow along as she becomes a better and more prepared businessperson? As for the story, a good friend or editor should have pointed out that at one point Miranda is thankful she doesn't have any clients scheduled for Monday but then goes to the hotel to meet clients. Little things like this can detract from the enjoyment of a story.

Thanks to Cozy Mystery Review for a copy of the book. This review is my own opinion.
Profile Image for Bridget.
2,774 reviews96 followers
July 7, 2020
Still Knife Painting marks the start of a brand new and intriguing cosy mystery series featuring Miranda Trent. Her Uncle Gene has left her a remote farmhouse on Pine Ridge, sited in the eastern Kentucky hills. One of the conditions that her uncle stipulated in his will was that Miranda must set up and make a success of a business including a distillery within a specified timescale, otherwise she will lose the right to her inheritance. So Miranda sets up a painting and distillery enterprise called Paint & Shine, pairing outdoor painting classes with sips of local moonshine, followed by a scrumptious homecooked meal, the best in southern cooking, but not everyone is happy that she is promoting moonshine within her business. When the cook is found dead in Miranda's kitchen, as an outsider she becomes the main suspect.

I totally adored the premise of Still Knife Painting and Cheryl Hollon's character development was excellent. I took a while to warm to the main narrator and artist Miranda, at first finding her rather brusque and impatient but I felt more in tune with her as the story meandered along. The comfortable pacing helped to make this a very pleasant cosy mystery, and the author's portrayal of the locale was terrific. There was a number of suspects to choose from to satisfy my tendency to play armchair detective, each with a plausible motive. I enjoyed the contributions from the quirkier characters such as Doris Ann (receptionist at the Hemlock Lodge) as well as the splashes of humour dotted throughout the story.

For readers who are looking for a new cosy mystery series I think Still Knife Painting will fit the bill with its delicious sounding, scrummy recipes, hints of romance, and wonderful descriptions of the gorgeous scenery. I'm definitely curious to see how things develop for Miranda in the next book!

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from Great Escapes Book Tours at my request and this review is my unbiased opinion.
Profile Image for K.A. Davis.
Author 4 books459 followers
June 16, 2020
STILL KNIFE PAINTING, the first book in the Paint & Shine Mysteries by Cheryl Hollon, is a good start to a brand new series. The reader is introduced to the introverted protagonist, Miranda Trent, who is just starting up her new business, Paint and Shine. This cultural adventure tour combines scenic painting, a traditional Southern dinner at her farmhouse, and a moonshine lecture and tasting, which all sound like fabulous ideas! I love this new twist for a cozy mystery setting. I was intrigued that the location is set in the middle of the Daniel Boone National Forest in rural Kentucky. The author captures the feeling of the rural isolation (often no cell phone service… I can’t imagine!), the beauty of the land (great for scenic painting), and the food and moonshine libations of the area. The author begins the book with a lovely acknowledgement indicating her parents grew up in the area that the book showcases and she spent her summers there visiting her grandparents. I was a little uncomfortable how several of the characters came across as bumpkins. Being a Southern California gal myself, I’m not familiar with Kentucky or the attitudes/beliefs of the rural residents but I would hope that her portrayal was simply an artistic exaggeration.

As the mystery over who killed Miranda’s prickly Southern cook unfolds (even though the police rule that it was an accident) I enjoyed that Miranda uses her artistic abilities to record clues and her impressions of suspects. I also liked that she joins forces with Austin, the handsome park ranger and potential love interest, to solve the mystery. They work well together and he respects her talents and quest for justice. While I guessed early on who the culprit was (well, I wasn’t 100% sure) I had no idea what the motivation for murder was. Ms. Hollon pens some unique twists and adds in a couple subplots to keep the reader entertained. I was thrown a bit when the point of view switched from Miranda to the sheriff, and then switched again to the coroner (who happens to be the sheriff’s wife). The few switches are clearly marked with asterisks so I didn’t feel lost but it’s a technique that isn’t often used in cozy mysteries. On the plus side it does move the story along by providing information that Miranda, as the protagonist, wouldn’t have access to. The author wraps up the murder mystery with an exciting conclusion yet leaves the reader wanting to know more about what happens to Miranda and her fledgling business, which is the sign of a good read!

There are plenty of mouthwatering recipes included at the back of the book and I especially love that the author also includes several moonshine cocktail recipes to pair with the dishes.

I was provided with an advance copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Seraphia.
1,769 reviews19 followers
June 28, 2020
Still Knife Painting is the first book in Cheryl Hollon’s newest cozy mystery series. Prepare to be transported to eastern Kentucky where Miranda is embarking on the course to start her painting tourism business. She has high hopes and high expectations for herself. She needs things to go well so that she can build a moonshine still and keep the homestead she inherited. Things take a bad turn when her cook is found murdered and Miranda becomes the prime suspect. The bad thing about small towns? Everyone knows just about everything and Miranda’s arguments with her cook were something no one ignored and were quick to gossip about. Now, Miranda needs to find out the truth behind the murder and why it happened.
Still Knife Painting is an engaging cozy mystery novel and I truly enjoyed the true to life characters and the amount of detail the author blends into this story. She also writes about some truly delicious dishes. There were moments of where I was either drooling or wanting to get into the kitchen to test a couple of them out for myself. Miranda comes off as being a soft character, but she does have a bit of a temper on her and it does flare to life when she’s pushed to the limit.
The author creates an air of mystery not just with the murder, but with the mysterious happenings that continue at the house. Miranda is plagued with misfortune in the first one way and then another. You really begin to wonder if she’s going to be able to survive the proverbial storm that is swirling around her. Her business starts off okay, but she’s still worried about breaking even. Miranda is literally fighting an uphill battle. How was she to know how some of the “more important” locals would feel about moonshine?
I’ll admit that I get annoyed a couple of times with the characters when they want to take such strong stands behind being against moonshine, but all I’m going to say is that each one has their own story and that they are revealed in the right moment. This story has lighthearted moments and then it has its tragic moments as well. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed with the reveal of the killer. I guess I wanted/expected something a bit more thrilling. I wanted there to be more of a big reveal.
For readers who have read books by this author before then, I think that they will enjoy this new series. For readers who are looking for a new cozy mystery author to check out then, I think that this book will be a good fit with its delicious foods (and recipes included), hints of romance, and well-done descriptions of the gorgeous scenery. I am rating this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. I’m looking forward to reading Miranda’s next engagement with mystery and danger.
Profile Image for Mary Brown.
1,224 reviews49 followers
July 11, 2020

Miranda Trent has set up a sweet life in a scenic corner of Appalachia--until she stumbles across the trail of a killer . . .

After inheriting her uncle's Red River Gorge homestead in Eastern Kentucky--smack dab in the middle of the Daniel Boone National Forest--Miranda comes up with a perfect business plan for summer tourists: pairing outdoor painting classes with sips of local moonshine, followed by a mouthwatering sampler of the best in southern cooking.

To Miranda's delight, Paint & Shine is a total success--until someone kills the cook. As the town's outsider, suspicion naturally falls on Miranda. Murdering the best biscuit baker of Red River Gorge is a high crime in these parts. Miranda will have to prove her innocence before she's moved from farmhouse to jail cell faster than she can say "white lightning" . . (Goodreads)


Miranda has recently moved from New York to the farmhouse that she inherited from her uncle. She has a plan to run a business: outdoor painting classes, a meal in her farmhouse and a moonshine tasting. She does not even get through the debut class before murder is committed. This is not the way she saw her business going. Now she has to figure out the murderer before her business goes belly up. Miranda is a hard working determined woman who will do anything to make her business a success. But I think she was also rude at times and was not afraid to speak her mind, even if it did not paint everyone in a nice light. That is only my opinion and others may not agree with me.

I liked the premise of the book, I thought the idea of doing outside painting and a meal in her farmhouse was a good one. That would be so nice to do, so relaxing. The writing style flows smoothly and the book is an easy read. The author creates a great setting in Eastern Kentucky and I could picture in my mind’s eye the beauty of the area.

The mystery was well plotted and there were enough clues to sift through and suspects to consider. I was pretty sure who the culprit was but I did not know the why of the killing.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well plotted cozy mystery. I think it was a good start to the series.

I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher, Kensington Books, and NetGalley, which I greatly appreciate.

Profile Image for Allison Collins.
Author 7 books49 followers
July 1, 2020
“Still Knife Painting” is the first in a new series from author Cheryl Hollon, author of the Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery series. I’ve been a fan of that series, so I was very excited to read this new book in the “A Paint and Shine” series.

Artist Miranda Tolson has inherited her Uncle Gene’s house and land in Kentucky, so she’s moved from New York City to start a new business. Miranda grew up spending summers with her uncle in the beauty of the Red River Gorge area of Eastern Kentucky, so to showcase the area and her talents, she’s taking tourists on hiking expeditions to paint, then taking them to her home for a traditional Southern cuisine meal. And a highlight of that meal is pairing moonshine recipes with the various offerings.

Miranda has faced some opposition to offering the drinks from the woman she hired to prepare the traditional southern recipes, which has led to several loud arguments, witnessed by the townsfolk. On the day of her very first tour, someone kills the cook in Miranda’s kitchen. To keep herself out of jail, and to keep her fledgling business afloat on a shoestring, Miranda begins to investigate which one of her tourists or the two local men onsite may have stuck a knife in her cook.
This new series has a cast of fun, quirky characters, including Miranda’s rescue pup, Sandy. I enjoyed getting to know Miranda as she becomes reacquainted with the locals and trying to figure out whodunnit. I was kept guessing till the very end! The author has a strong voice for writing Cozy Mysteries, and I’ve been a fan of hers for years, so a new series is a welcome addition to her storytelling skills.

The author also has a great way of writing about the setting, so it felt as if I was actually in the beautiful small town and woods in Eastern Kentucky.

Best of all, included in the book are some of the mouthwatering recipes for moonshine cocktails and the food served in the story!

I was thrilled to win an ARC of this new series, and am happy to leave an honest review.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 188 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.