Here's the set up. Moses LoBeau lives in Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, with her "parents," Miss Lana and the Colonel. She washed up in Tupelo 11 years ago during a hurricane and she is looking for her "upstream mother" - she figures if she came floating downstream her birth mother must be upstream somewhere.
One of her schemes to find her upstream mother is to put notes in bottles and have people from Tupelo drop them into the Neuse River when they visit Goldsboro or Raleigh. Since it's on the Neuse and near the coast I put Tupelo around the location of New Bern.
Mo's name was Lobo until she started school. Miss Lana decided she needed a name with a bit more class so she changed it to LoBeau with the accent on the end rather than at the beginning. Mo's best friend is Dale Earnhardt Johnson (his dad names his children after famous people) and the story begins as Mo calls into Dale's window at 6:30 in the morning to wake him up. Miss Lana is gone and the Colonel isn't up to cooking so she has to open the Colonel's cafe this morning and she needs help from Dale.
Since Mo and Dale aren't allowed to use the stove, they have to be a little creative with the menu. No coffee, but the beverage special is Mountain Dew. No bacon and eggs, so the special is a peanut butter and banana sandwich, on Wonder bread, hand-squished or fluffy, with or without crust.
As Mo and Dale hustle to fill the orders of the regulars, Mayor Little, Jesse (whose boat is missing, something Dale may know a bit too much about), Grandmother Miss Lacy Thornton, and Reverend Thompson and his son, Thessalonians, a stranger in a dust-colored Impala drives into the parking lot.
It's Detective Joe Starr from Winston-Salem, on his way to solve a murder in Wilmington. But it isn't long before Jesse turns up dead and the detective has work to do in Tupelo Landing.
If you have read Because of Winn-Dixie you will recognize the tone of Three Times Lucky, very southern, charming, full of wit, and with a good solid plot to carry you along.