Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Pint of No Return ( A Sloan Krause Mystery #2)

Author:  Ellie Alexander
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781250108654
Minotaur Publishing
304 Pages
$26.99; $13.99 Amazon
October 2, 2018

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No other festival compares to Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, Washington.  The whole town is buzzing with excitement over this year's activities and eagerly awaiting Nitro's latest offering Cherrywizen, made with locally sourced cherries.  But local brewmaster Sloan Krause is tapped out.  Between trying to manage the pub, her pending divorce with Mac, and her mounting feelings for Garrett, she's fermenting in internal turmoil.

To complicate matters, dreamy movie star Mitchell Morgan and his production crew have arrived in the village to film during the authentic, Bavarian brewfest.  Mitchell has his eye on Sloan and a taste for Nitro's Cherrywizen.  Sloan escapes his advances for good when she finds Mitchell slumped over the bar.  Is this a case of one pint too many, or has Mitchell been murdered by microbrew?

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Sloan Krause is settling into her new job as a brewmaster for Garrett Strong, who owns Nitro, a nanobrewery that's new in town.  It's Oktoberfest, and they're excited about the business it will bring in.  They also soon discover that there's a film crew in town doing a documentary on breweries, and they want to feature Sloan, as a groundbreaking female brewmaster.  She agrees, thinking the exposure will be good for Nitro.

But once she sees the emcee of the documentary - Mitchell Morgan - she tries to distance herself.  He's an egomaniac and a jerk who delights in making everyone around him miserable.  But it's no fun when she comes across his body one evening with a broken growler from Nitro nearby.  While Sloan isn't considered a suspect, she knows that April Ablin, a town realtor and self-proclaimed "town representative" and Mitchell got the growler before they left the bar.

Still, there's a girl who shows up at the scene named Kat who accuses Sloan's friend Lisa of the murder but Sloan can't believe Lisa capable.  But what does she really know about Kat?  Not much; but she and Garrett hire her anyway on the off chance that she's telling the truth that she's stranded and has nowhere else to go.

With all of this, her soon-to-be ex-husband Mac is striving to get her back and it seems will go to any lengths to do so, including putting himself right where Sloan doesn't want him to be.  Now with a murderer on the loose, and Sloan wondering about Lisa and Kat, can she help track a killer before anyone else is in danger?  Or has she already gotten too close and the killer has their sights set on her?...

I liked this book better than the first, although there were a couple of things that bothered me.  One is how April said how she's going to make it a bylaw that everyone in town has to wear traditional German outfits - with the men in lederhosen and the women wearing dirndl dresses.  Um, no.  You can't force a private business to do what you want them to.  She can't force them to decorate their interior the way she wants, nor can she force a dress code on them.  Anyway, I can't see anyone in town being stupid enough to want to walk around in lederhosen all the time.  I wouldn't call her a nemesis, as Sloan does, I'd call her a complete moron.

Also, since when do bars (and a brewery is a bar) serve meat and cheese trays?  As I've stated before, I eat at breweries (Las Vegas has great food anywhere you go) but their menus consist of food that actually go well with beer:  burgers, pizza, sandwiches, wings, etc.  Never have I seen any - even in towns I've visited with friends - meat and cheese trays.  I would guess people who drink beer don't say, "hey, you know what I'd like right now?  A meat and cheese tray!"  Just a thought...

Also, it's fine to think of Mac's family as her own, but eventually she'll go onto another relationship, (hopefully with Garrett) and so will Mac as one can hope; since he cheated on her and she forgave him he pretty much got away with it, so he'll do it again if she takes him back.  What happens then?  Are they going to leave their respective spouses to go 'have a family day?'  Or bring them with?  That would be an uncomfortable scenario, and I can't even imagine my husband doing something like that if he had a previous spouse.  I wouldn't be happy about it.  She needs to think about who's been there for her every time she needed someone, and it wasn't Mac.  Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying cutting ties because of her son Alex (whom I like very much) and who deserves to be around his relatives, but if she spends too much time with them it's less likely she'll be able to forge a new relationship.

Aside from these things (sorry, I'm big on details) this was definitely a step up from the first in the series, although that one wasn't bad at all.  I liked the mystery much better in this one; there were plenty of suspects to sift through, and a few clues here and there.  Everything had a nice continuity and made it an easy read.

We're getting to know the characters a little bit more each time and that's always a good thing; there was enough characterization to keep things going.  While we didn't get a lot of insight on the town businesses and people this time - it was Oktoberfest, after all, and that took center stage - still there was a little more information on the brewing process as there was in the last book, which was interesting.

There was also a nice subplot on Sloan's origins which I imagine will be expanded on in future books, and also her feelings for Garrett are beginning to grow; he obviously cares about Sloan and I look forward to seeing how their relationship progresses.

In the end, there were enough twists and turns to keep everything moving along nicely, and when the murderer was unmasked, it came as a surprise, which is a good thing.  I truly enjoyed this book and look forward to the next in the series.  Recommended.

https://www.amazon.com/Pint-Return-Sloan-Krause-Mystery/dp/1250108659/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2437895573

More on Ellie Alexander's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/a/ellie-alexander/

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