Without A Brew
Sloan Krause Mysteries #4
By Ellie Alexander
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra
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. (Goodreads)
Without a Brew is the fourth book in the Sloan Krause Mystery series, a series which I happen to LOVE! I must say – this fourth book in the series is, in my opinion, the best so far. If you like cozy mysteries that keep you guessing until the end, a slow burning “other” intriguing storyline, protagonists with every day relatable issues, then this is the book for you. While you can certainly read this as a stand alone, I enjoyed the added depth for the main characters that I gleaned from reading the previous books in this series.
The story begins as any good story set in a brewery in Leavenworth, Washington in January – with a winter storm stranding people without hotel rooms available to stay in! Luckily for them, Nitro (micro brewery owned by Garrett) is soon to open up a few guest rooms so while not officially open, Sloan and Garrett expand their soft opening for the stranded additional overnight guests. In true cozy fashion, a death soon occurs and given that the victim is one of the guests at Nitro, Sloan is compelled to give the local constabulary a helping hand – much to the approval of Chief Meyers.
There certainly is no shortage of potential suspects! This reader found the trail of clues that Sloan weaves through interesting and at times – just big ole red herrings. But this is what made the story compelling, interesting and downright fun to read. While I had my thoughts on who the murderer might have been, I did need discoveries made throughout the story to piece it together in the end. And I must say (without giving anything away of course) that the final scenes where the murderer is revealed certainly grabbed my attention… hoping beyond hope that Sloan would be okay and not succumb to the cold before help arrived.
The other storyline in which Sloan is trying to discover the identity of her birth parents took a mighty interesting turn. However, this resulted (in my mind) some rather interesting questions that will still need to be answered. The involvement / knowledge that Otto and Ursula have and did not share with Sloan definitely peaked my interest – and I cannot wait for what is to come (I sure hope there is more to come!!).
I am excited for Sloan to experience “village” life. She finally made a decision about purchasing a new-to-her home in the village as a result of her impending divorce. Best to move out of the family home and begin again. Her consideration for her son, Alex, really was touching and showed that above all else – she is a mother first and foremost. And that is a trait I like to see portrayed, if warranted.
As for the remainder of the local characters, I found this book light on getting to know many more of them – except of course April. She was certainly instrumental in the purchase of the village home (being the real estate agent on record for the property). I found in this book, April was not quite as annoying (or maybe I am getting used to her eccentricities).
I shall be waiting with baited breath for the next installment of the Sloan Krause Mysteries series. A big shout out goes to author Ellie Alexander for penning a series which has truly captured my interest… and desire for a vacation to Leavenworth! So in the final analysis – pick up a copy of Without a Brew and get reading – you won’t regret it (at least in my opinion).