Series: Sloan Krause #3
Published by Minotaur Books on October 1, 2019
Genres: Cozy Mystery
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It's the dead season in Leavenworth, Washington. The throngs of Oktoberfest crowds have headed home, and the charming Bavarian streets are quiet and calm--momentarily. Villagers use the reprieve to drink in the crisp fall mountain air and prepare for the upcoming winter light festival. Soon the German-inspired shops and restaurants will be aglow with thousands of twinkling lights. Visitors will return to the northern Cascades to drink warm mulled cider and peruse the holiday markets. Brewer, Sloan Krause and her partner in crime Garrett Strong are using the slowdown to stock up on a new line of their signature craft beers at Nitro. They're experimenting with a hoppy holiday pine and a chocolate hazelnut stout. The small brewery is alive with delicious scents and bubbling batches of brew.
Sloan is in her element. She loves the creativity and lowkey atmosphere at Nitro. Only that is soon threatened by the incumbent city councilmember Kristopher Cooper. Kristopher is running for re-election on a platform of making Leavenworth dry. Everyone in beertopia is fuming. Leavenworth's economy relies on keeping the kegs flowing. Kristopher wants to banish beer, a policy that might just bankrupt the entire village. However, Kristopher turns up dead days before election night. Sloan quickly realizes that his murder isn't the work of a stranger. Friends, family, and every other business owner had a motive to kill him, including none other than April Ablin, Leavenworth's self-described ambassador of all things German. Sloan finds herself defending April and trying to sleuth out a killer amongst a group of familiar faces.
I’m not a beer drinker, but my husband and our friends are, so I hear a lot of beer talk. Fall is his favorite time of year for beer, and I think that was part of the reason I was attracted to Beyond a Reasonable Stout. I enjoyed learning a bit more about the brewing process; it’s interesting and while I realized a lot had to go into it, I’ve never really read anything about the process. Oktoberfest is over and Sloan and Garrett are starting to work on their winter beers. Leavenworth is a town whose livelihood is the tourist industry and that centers around their craft breweries and their Bavarian-style town. It actually sounds like it would be a fun place to visit.
And then Kristopher Cooper gets killed. Granted, just about everyone in town was angry at the anti-alcohol platform he was running on for re-election to city council, but who took it all the way to murder? The annoying local real estate agent is arrested for the crime, but even the police chief doesn’t seem to think she’s guilty. Now, this is the first Sloan Krause mystery I’ve read, but Sloane and Garrett must have helped the Chief solve a previous murder because she encourages Sloan to listen and pay attention and maybe do a little digging. It’s nice when the amateur sleuth and the cops get along, even if that’s not how it would work in real life.
Sloan is dedicated to her son, her job and her town. She makes a good sleuth and I liked that as she did her detecting we met several of the townsfolk. They’re a quirky bunch, but I guess what can you expect from people who live and work in such a kitschy town. The whodunnit was a little obvious, but it was still enjoyable.
The one detraction for me is what I guess is a continuing arc revolving around the mystery of who Sloan’s parents were. I could have done without that bit and I didn’t like that it strained her relationship with her (soon to be ex-) in-laws. Just give me a good sleuth, a decent mystery, solid secondary characters and a good setting. I’d really rather skip the mysterious past.