In the second of the Jubilee Showboat Mysteries, Gwen Barlow, her mother, brother and cast of colorful performers are faced with another murder mystery on the Jubilee Palace showboat. This time the Jubilee has stopped in Moss Hollow, Kentucky, hometown of the troupe's lead actress, Marianne Dresden. However, Gwen soon learns that the ingénue’s real name is Mary Alice Kobb, and she left her parents' cabin and a big secret behind when she ran away from the repressive river town run by the influential Diggers family.

Gwen's hopes to avoid problems with the Kobbs are dashed when Mary Alice's coarse backwoods father, Shelby, is found dead on the Jubilee deck, strangled with a length of barbed wire. Sheriff Diggers orders the Jubilee to stay in port until the murder is solved. Gwen combs the town and countryside in search of clues so her beloved showboat can move on.

While Mary Alice and other members of the Jubilee family are suspects, Gwen discovers that several people in Moss Hollow, including Shelby's own wife and sons, had reasons for wanting to see the unpleasant farmer done in. Gwen must deal with small-town prejudice, an overly zealous country preacher who takes a fancy to her, and a crude moonshiner who once courted Mary Alice. Luckily, she still has the handsome showboat captain, Carson Stockwell, on her side. Before the murder is solved, Gwen is granted a miraculous gift far beyond her wildest dreams that will change her life forever. But she almost loses this chance for happiness when she faces a horrifying end at the hands of the Moss Hollow killer.
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The Jubilee Palace showboat has stopped for a performance in Moss Hollow, Kentucky.  It is soon discovered that Moss Hollow is the birthplace of the troupe’s lead actress, Marianne Dresden.

Apparently Marianne Dresden was born Mary Alice Kobb and left her parents’ cabin and a big secret and ran away from the river town.  The town appears to be run by the Diggers family.  Everywhere Gwen Barlow turns, there is another member of the Diggers family. 

Gwen’s mother inherited the Jubilee Palace and now lives on it with her daughter Gwen and her son Preston. 

After the performance, Mary Alice’s father is found murdered on the showboat, grounding it in Moss Hollow until the investigation is completed.  Gwen had so hoped they could leave right after the performance to avoid problems with the Kobb family. 

In an attempt to free the Jubilee so it can move on, Gwen begins to investigate the murder to try to assist the sheriff.  She soon finds that many people had reasons to see Mr. Kobb eliminated.  In her attempts to find the truth, she has to deal with small-town prejudice and a country preacher who takes a fancy to Gwen.  Then there’s the crude moonshiner who once dated Mary Alice.  Mary Alice wants nothing to do with anyone in Moss Hollow. 

Gwen is happy to have the handsome showboat captain, Carson Stockwell, assisting her in the investigation and protecting her when needed.

Before the Jubilee is finally freed to go, a miracle arrives for Gwen.  Can Gwen solve the murder without putting herself in harm and losing a chance at the miracle?

I love this series set on an old showboat.  The characters are so enjoyable.  So many different personalities and yet it is easy to keep them straight as you read.  The author has done a great job of creating them and making them come to life.  I feel as if I’ve been aboard the showboat when I’m reading.

Gwen is a fun, but determined young woman.  She has to be to be able to run the Jubilee.  But there are some twists in this book that make her relook at her life.

I highly recommend this book and can’t wait to read the next one.

Dawn Dowdle