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Russell Johnson
The Moonshine Messiah
As if being a woman sheriff in the West Virginia coal fields wasn’t tough enough, Mary Beth Cain’s life is complicated by the fact that the local hillbilly crime syndicate is run by her mother, Mamie. It's an association that, along with Mary Beth’s head-busting ways, has her staring down a corruption investigation when she gets a surprise visit from Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Connelly. Twenty years earlier, Patrick was Mary Beth’s high school sweetheart, but they broke up because Mary Beth couldn’t cut the loose ties she maintains with her villainous family. Now Patrick’s worked out a deal to wipe Mary Beth’s slate clean if she'll just do one thing: arrest her brother, Sawyer, who is the cult leader of a booming anti-government militia that's been giving the Feds headaches. It's an offer Mary Beth refuses until Sawyer's followers blow up a federal courthouse and G-men start swarming into town, preparing for a siege of the commando's compound. Suddenly Mary Beth is tasked with trying to head off a bloody, Waco-style massacre and the question isn't whether she should arrest her brother, but if she can do it in time.

Russell Johnson’s THE MOONSHINE MESSIAH is Justified meets Fargo and with as many twists and turns as a Blue Ridge mountain pass you won’t put this book down. It’s one I wish I could read again with fresh eyes. —Mark Westmoreland, A Violent Gospel and A Mourning Song


A butt-kicking West Virginian female sheriff from an outlaw family on a fast-moving adventure! This is a wild ride, full of action and adventure. Crime, 'crooked' DOJ employees, white supremacists, a strip-joint owning narcissistic mother, a little romance, and a fast moving story all build to a satisfying conclusion. The author has developed a fresh new character that has not been done before. I sincerely hope that this is the first in a series. I really want to see where he can take the story. This is a fast read, I had a very hard time putting it down. And thoroughly enjoyable. Bravo!

Reader's Favorite

Reviewed by Alma Boucher for Readers’ Favorite

The Moonshine Messiah is a mystery by Russell W. Johnson. After her husband's death, Mary Beth became the sheriff. Mary Beth's family members are criminals, which sometimes works in her favor because she understands criminal minds and that helps her with her job. Mamie, Mary Beth's mother, is the head of the local crime syndicate, which complicates matters significantly for Mary Beth. She receives an offer that her past criminal links will be overlooked by an old school sweetheart on condition that she gives up her brother to the authorities. Mary Beth's brother is the leader of the anti-government militia and owns a radio station that spreads propaganda. He's a thorn in the Feds' side, and they want to arrest him.

The Moonshine Messiah is complicated and exciting. The story was fast-paced and full of action. There was never a dull moment, but the story never felt rushed. Russell W. Johnson kept me on the edge of my seat with suspense. This roller coaster ride of crime and mystery had me hooked from the start. I could not put it down and eagerly turned the pages. The events were vivid and described in detail. The characters were well-handled, and each had a solid background. They were authentic, and I could relate to them. Some of the characters were wild and dangerous. It was a shock to learn that Mary Beth grew up in this criminal world and then became a sheriff. The story is well written, and Johnson has a gift for characters and plots.

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Cross Lanes native publishing a 'mountaineer mystery' this spring

Cross Lanes native publishing a 'mountaineer mystery' this spring