Amateur sleuth Sloan Krause delves into a murderous winter wonderland in another delightful mystery from cozy writer Ellie Alexander, Without a Brew.
It's winter in the Bavarian village of Leavenworth, Washington, which for local brewmaster Sloan Krause means lots of layers, pine and citrus-flavored craft beers, and getting the new guest rooms at Nitro into pristine condition before visitors flood in for IceFest—a local tradition filled with fireworks, ice carving, and winter games of all varieties. But Sloan and her boss Garrett quickly learn that being brewkeepers turned innkeepers may not be as idyllic as it sounded.
While one couple staying with them seems completely smitten, a flashy group arrives in the evening demanding rooms. Sloan and Garrett are less than impressed, but agree to rent to them anyway. The night takes a turn when brewery patron Liv Paxton finishes her frothy pint and, with no previous plan for an overnight stay in Leavenworth, eagerly takes Sloan up on the offer of sanctuary from the snow—until she has a strange run in with some locals and the other guests. Sloan could be imagining things, but when Liv's room is found trashed the next morning, a hateful message painted on her car, and Liv herself is nowhere to be found, Sloan is convinced another mystery is brewing. With many of the potential suspects hunkering down under Nitro's roof, she knows her co-workers and friends won't be safe until she serves up the killer a hoppy pint of justice.
In Alexander's well-crafted fourth mystery featuring microbrewer Sloan Krause (after 2019's Beyond a Reasonable Stout), Sloan along with her boss, Garrett\n, and her coworker, Kat\n launch a bed and breakfast above Nitro, Garrett's brewery in Leavenworth, Wash. Their guests range from a self-important corporate vice president and his friends on a skiing vacation to a couple taking an anniversary getaway. Then there's distraught Liv Paxton, who says she's in town from Spokane on some unspecified business. After Liv's body turns up in the river, her car is vandalized, and her room is ransacked, Sloan begins to wonder about the reasons for Liv's trip, potential grudges against Liv held by the other guests, and puzzling accounts from local mechanic Taylor\n, who constantly contradicts himself about Liv. Meanwhile, Sloan butts heads with her soon-to-be-former in-laws about her share in their business and their lack of candor about their relationship with her birth mother. Alexander excels in balancing Sloan's sleuthing with brewery lore. Readers will be eager to learn more about Sloan's roots in her next outing.