Arts Literature

Book Feature: The Skeleton at the Old Painted Mill

Celia Miles, Author

Asheville’s Celia Miles parlayed an early interest in water-powered mills into the creation of her Marcy Dehanne mystery series. “In the ‘70s, I photographed and researched regional mills, joined the Society for the Preservation of Old Mills and was hooked,” she says. “The ingenuity of early millers fascinated me—still does.”

The Skeleton at the Old Painted Mill

Her first two books in the series used actual grist mills—Dellinger Mill near Bakersville and a now-demolished mill near Brevard—as scenes for the crimes. For her latest novel, The Skeleton at the Old Painted Mill, Miles imagined a kudzu-covered mill in which her sleuth—a college instructor turned mill restoration consultant—finds a decades-old skeleton whose death will surely need to be investigated.

“Mysteries satisfy a basic need, I think, to find solutions, to tie up loose ends, to know, ultimately, justice will prevail,” Miles says. “They have to make sense even if real life doesn’t.” Her own “clean cozy” mysteries, she adds, “lack gruesome gore.”

Previous books in the series are The Body at Wrapp’s Mill and The Body at StarShine Mill. Miles spent her childhood in Jackson County and has lived in Asheville, where she retired from teaching at A-B Tech Community College, since 1973. She has written several novels set in WNC and one that takes place in Scotland’s Orkney Islands.

The Skeleton at the Old Painted Mill, September, 2020, mystery, paperback, $13.95, by Celia Miles, and published by Stone Ivy Press, Asheville, NC. Find the book at local independent bookstores, as well as at Mountain Made in Grove Arcade and at

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