Without a Brew by Ellie Alexander Without a Brew by Ellie Alexander
Series: Sloan Krause #4
Published by Minotaur Books on October 6, 2020
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
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three-half-stars

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.

Sloan Krause and her business partner Garrett are ready to make their Nitro Brewery opening into a bed and breakfast. They plan on a soft opening, but things get out of hand when a lack of local hotel rooms means they end up with a full house. When one of the guests is discovered missing the following morning, and her room ransacked, Sloan immediately calls the police chief. With the guests as the prime suspects, Sloan must use her resources to find out what is going on, and keep the business thriving. I like while Sloan helps solve the mystery, she always lets the police take the lead. She serves as an extra set of eyes and ears, but always shares her information with the police chief. Sloan is good at listening and talking to people, which is how she picks up clues.

The mystery was well done. There were several suspects and a couple of twists. Everything pulled together well at the end, and the crime was believable, if sad.

I’m not a fan of Sloan’s investigation into her own past. I get that a woman who spent her childhood bouncing from foster home to foster home would want to know more about her background, but the “facts” presented by her former caseworker are just odd. The whole situation seems unbelievable and takes away from the story, in my opinion. I like that Sloan is a strong woman, raising a teenage son and healing from her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s infidelity.

I’m not a beer drinker but my husband and our friends are definitely craft beer fans. The brewery and the brewing process is interesting. It gives me an appreciation for the process if not the final product.

Without a Brew is a fun read. I do love mysteries this time of year – well any time of the year honestly. This is the second in the Sloan Krause series I’ve read. I enjoy the people and Leavenworth is definitely a quirky town. I’m looking forward to the next in the series. Maybe Sloan will be able to reconcile with her past and her move to town may even give her social life a boost.

About Ellie Alexander

Cozy mystery author, Ellie Alexander, is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing a multitude of pastry and other recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, or hard at work on the next book in one of her cozy mystery series, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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