Book Release: The Mountain Mystic by Russell W. Johnson

We are please to announce the second book in The Mountaineer Mysteries, The Mountain Mystic by Russell W. Johnson. We hope you’ll enjoy it as much as you did The Moonshine Messiah.

What to Expect inside…

Since succeeding her dearly departed husband, Bill, to become Jasper County’s first female sheriff, Mary Beth Cain has closed more cases than any three of her male predecessors combined. But nobody bats a thousand in the cop game. Nobody. And, ovaries aside, Mary Beth knows she’s no different. There’d been a handful of unsolveds during her tenure, victims and families denied their justice, and each and every one of them gnaws at her soul. She thinks about them late at night as she sips her whiskey, counting regrets like sheep.

But the case that haunts Mary Beth most is one that went cold before she was even on the force: the long-ago disappearance of a family friend, named Maria Ruiz. So when a country psychic’s vision leads to the discovery of Maria’s body, Mary Beth isn’t willing to chalk it up as genuine clairvoyance and goes all in on an investigation that cuts close to home.

What folks are saying…

“Russell Johnson has packed more twists and turns into THE MOUNTAIN MYSTIC than you’ll find in the West Virginia backroads his characters roam. The mystery that plays out keeps you turning pages at top speed. It’s one hell of a thrilling ride.”

Wes Browne, author of They All Fall the Same

“It’s in the cards: Many mystery fans will enjoy this twisty page-turner.”

Kirkus Review

“In THE MOUNTAIN MYSTIC, an explosive rural noir, brassy WV sheriff Mary Beth Cain blurs the line between lawman and outlaw in the search for justice. With a plot like a mountain road, twisting and winding to its jaw dropping peak, Johnson has braided an irreverent thriller, a legal drama, and a meditation on motherhood into a fuse and lit it on fire.”

Meagan Lucas, author of Songbirds and Stray Dogs and Here in the Dark

THE MOUNTAIN MYSTICS’s propulsive story grabs you on the first page and doesn’t let up until the end. Russell W. Johnson pulls the reader around unexpected curves like the West Virginia back roads his characters traverse trying to solve a cold case that has been reheated by a psychic. Sheriff Mary Beth Cain and her deputy Izzy jump off the page with humor and heart. An entertaining sequel that is on par with Johnson’s remarkable debut, The Moonshine Messiah.”

Brett Lovell, author of A Bad And Dangerous Man

“Russell W. Johnson’s THE MOUNTAIN MYSTIC thrums like the novelization of a Steve Earle song, capturing a thoroughly modern cast of West “by God” Virginians in all their messiness, pride, and defiance of historic wrongs and contemporary expectations. Prickly Sheriff Mary Beth Cain and her crew watching over Jasper County are the real McCoy.”

Zakariah Johnson, author of Mink: Skinning Time in Wisconsin

The Mountain Mystic dynamite blasts the reader right back into Sheriff Mary Beth Cain’s hands and by gawd don’t Russell Johnson make it one helluva good return! Reads faster than a Camaro burning rubber over mountain blacktop and slams barrel proof down your gullet for the entire ride as Mary Beth spotlights for truth in a forest of dark so deep not even the Haints can see through it! Bang-a-fucking-rang!”

Ashley Erwin, author of Grit, Black, Blood

“Pour a strong drink, kick back, and savor this Appalachian-set murder mystery that’s full of surprises and intrigue. Leading this story is Sheriff Mary Beth Cain, a strong, complicated protagonist sure to make you cringe and root for in equal measure. Leave no doubt, Johnson has a winner with The Mountain Mystic.”

Curtis Ippolito, Anthony-nominated author of Burying the Newspaper Man

The Mountain Mystic is Russell Johnson writing in top form, creating memorable characters in Sheriff Mary Beth Cain, the first woman to ever be the top cop in Jasper County, and diminutive Chief Deputy Izzy Baker. With a ton of panache and expert skill at unspooling a story, Johnson has penned another must-read for fans of grit-lit and Southern/Appalachian noir.”

—Bobby Mathews, award-winning author of Living the Gimmick and Magic City Blues

“Russell Johnson’s The Mountain Mystic comes out of the gate like a cannon on page one and doesn’t take a breath until its expertly-wrought conclusion. Johnson continues to carve out a niche in rural noir that feels distinctly his own, painting a detailed portrait of small-town West Virginia life rich in both beauty and tragedy, and filled with characters who immediately feel like old friends. Best of all is Sheriff Mary Beth Cain—funny, fierce, and nearly unstoppable in her pursuit of justice—who deserves to stand alongside Ace Atkins’ Quinn Colson and Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire.”

James D.F. Hannah, Shamus-winning author of Because the Night and Behind the Wall of Sleep

About the Author

Russell W. Johnson is a North Carolina attorney who got so sick of billable hours he began writing crime fiction. His debut story, “Chung Ling Soo’s Greatest Trick,” was published by ​​​​​​​​​​​Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and won the Edgar Awards’ Robert L. Fish Memorial prize for best short story by a new author. Since then he has been published in a number of outlets and been a finalist or nominee for the Pushcart Prize, Claymore Award, and Screencraft’s Cinematic Novel Competition.


Nestled in the foothills of West Virginia, Ron Earl Phillips lives with his wife, a daughter, a German Shepherd, and one too many cats.