Hunter Comes to Country Bookshop
Prohibition. Moonshine. Bootleggers. The Intracoastal Waterway. Murder.
Historic Wilmington will never be safe if mystery writer Ellen Elizabeth Hunter has her way. On Thursday, Sept. 21, at 4 p.m., the popular author returns to The Country Bookshop with her newest novel, "Murder on the ICW."
In the fifth book in the "Magnolia Mystery" series, historic preservationist Ashley Wilkes is not surprised to learn that the hunting lodge she is restoring once housed an operational still. During the Prohibition Era, moonshine operations flourished along the creeks that fed the Intracoastal Waterway. But what she discovers under a small mountain of moonshine bottles is both surprising and shocking.
Hunter has meticulously researched another historic event set in the Greater Wilmington area and has mixed real people from the past with her fictional characters.
Officers Leon George, Samuel Lilly, and H. G. Gulley were historic figures, law enforcement officers who were assigned the thankless job of enforcing the Volstead Act, better known as Prohibition. Lilly and George, and George's pet Airedale Laddie, were ambushed and gunned down in an isolated area of Northwest Wilmington by the Stewarts, moonshiners who were later electrocuted for the murders.
Hunter, who recently moved to Cary from Greensboro, is still awaiting the day when she can finally move to Wilmington.
"My heart belongs to Wilmington," she says. "I fell in love with Wilmington the first time I visited and had dinner on a balcony at Riverboat Landing Restaurant and watched the sun set over the Cape Fear."
Because her husband's work took them to Greensboro, she decided the next best thing to living in Wilmington herself would be to create a character who did.
In 2002, her short story, "Moving Day," was published in "Deadly Plots," an anthology of short mystery stories by six members of the Mystery Writers' Group. In it, a historic preservationist is hired to relocate a 1950 Greek Revival house, unaware that the structure concealed a most unusual artifact. Two years later, the character of Ashley Wilkes made her appearance in the first of Hunter's "Magnolia Mysteries," which includes "Murder on the Candlelight Tour," "Murder at the Azalea Festival," and "Murder at Wrightsville Beach."
Hunter is currently researching her sixth novel, "Murder on the Cape Fear," about the blockade of Wilmington during the Civil War.
"Wilmington was called the 'lifeline of the Confederacy,'" says Hunter, "because its port and railroad moved much needed supplies into the agrarian South. Ashley is unwittingly drawn into a murder that takes place at the Two Sisters Bookery during Binkie's book signing -- a murder that has its roots in the exploits of a Cape Fear River pilot who ran the blockade 142 years ago."
To reserve an autographed copy of Hunter's books or for information, call The Country Bookshop at 910- 692-3211.
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