Friday, March 02, 2018

"Beervaria" Mystery an Enjoyable, Atmospheric Opener to New Cozy Series

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Shuffled from place to place as a foster kid, Sloan never felt at home anywhere—until she met the Krauses.  When she married Mac fifteen years ago, his parents and brother welcomed her with open arms into their lives, their family, and their beer-making business.  As one of the few who "has the nose" for beer, she's made a name for herself as the first female brewmaster in the region.  Her ingenuity is partly responsible for the continuing success of the Krause's renowned brewery in Leavenworth, Washington. 

When Sloan finds Mac in a compromising position with a young barmaid, she's furious and hurt.  Although she's pretty sure her marriage is over, she can't stand the thought of any awkwardness between her and her loving adopted family.  To create some distance, Sloan takes a job at Nitro, a hip nano-brewery that's just opened up in town.  Its owner, a handsome software engineer from Seattle, is thrilled to have Sloan's help, but it's not long before the pub's successful start turns sour.  Sloan discovers the dead body of a rival brewmaster floating in Nitro's fermenting tank.  Temperamental Eddie Deluga wouldn't have won any popularity contests in Leavenworth, but who hated him enough to kill him?  The police suspect Mac.  Sloan's still raging over her husband's betrayal, but she knows he's not a killer.  To clear his name, she'll have to find the real murderer.  With no end of possible suspects—including her new boss—it won't be an easy job.

I'm not a huge fan of cozy mysteries, but when I need a break from dark, gory police procedurals, I often find myself hunting for a lighter, less depressing alternative.  Someone mentioned Ellie Alexander as a possibility, so I picked up Death on Tap, the first installment in her new cozy series.  The jacket art spoke right to my PNW-loving soul and, indeed, the setting is probably my favorite part of Death on Tap.  Alexander does an admirable job of bringing Leavenworth to life in all its quaint, charming glory.  She also seems very knowledgeable about the beer business, of which I know absolutely zilch.  I found the details fascinating.  Unfortunately, the main characters—Sloan, Mac, Garrett, etc.—aren't nearly as developed.  Without a lot of personality, most of them are likable but not memorable.  The plot of Death on Tap is fairly straightforward, with a killer who's pretty obvious from the get-go.  Still, this is a quick, enjoyable read.  It's just not as well executed as I wanted it to be.  I'll continue reading the series because it's clean, fun, and atmospheric, but I really hope it gets better as it goes.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of books by Joanne Fluke, M.C. Beaton, and Karen MacInerney)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for violence, and brief/mild language and innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

2 comments:

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed it for the most part. I hope it gets better as it goes for your sake.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can take a cozy mystery once in awhile, but I've never made it through an entire series; they just don't hold my interest.

    ReplyDelete

Comments make me feel special, so go crazy! Just keep it clean and civil. Feel free to speak your mind (I always do), but be aware that I will delete any offensive comments.

P.S.: Don't panic if your comment doesn't show up right away. I have to approve each one before it posts to prevent spam. It's annoying, but it works!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin