Staci Mercado-Author and Teacher Discusses Her Latest Book: “Honey Wiskey Murders”
Staci Mercado won a Midwest Book Award for her historical fiction novel, Seeking Signs (Four Feathers Press, 2013). She has published work in Barely South Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, Our Iowa, and Broad Street. With an MFA in Creative Writing, Staci teaches writing at Central DeWitt high school, youth workshops at the Iowa Writers’ House in Iowa City, and was awarded the 2017 Outstanding Literary Arts Educator Award from the Midwest Writing Center.
Summary of “Honey Whiskey Murders”:
Elsie Edens, the teen detective who found her sister’s killer in Seeking Signs, is back. In her early 20s now and solving cases on her own, Elsie has developed into a full-fledged investigator working for a prominent Clinton, Iowa, agency. It’s Sunday, November 5, 1922, and in the local paper, rural Iowa residents are shocked to read the headline “Coldest-Blooded Double Murder in the History of Clinton County.” A well-known, respected husband and wife were brutally slain the previous night in their country store in Low Moor, Iowa. The local authorities, already under scrutiny for a rash of cold cases, call for help from an aging private investigator who sends Elsie, his young and ambitious protégée, to examine the crime scene. Prohibition complicates her inquiries and leads her to an old friend who helps her uncover a motive for the murders. It seems the Chicago Outfit has turned its attention to a small town in Iowa’s Driftless Area, a rocky section of limestone bluffs, river bottoms, and immigrant families determined to survive. During her investigation, Elsie is forced to relive a gruesome incident from her past — one that proves locals like her are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. Honey Whiskey Murders is based on actual events. The novel shares the historical fiction spotlight with two other crime thrillers: The Wettest County in the World, the historical novel that inspired the movie Lawless, and Road to Perdition, the graphic novel that preceded the film of the same name.