Friday, October 5, 2018

Death Distilled (A Whisky Business Mystery #2)

Author:  Melinda Mullet
Genre:  Mystery

Digital Book; Audio Book
Alibi Publishing
240 Pages
$4.99 Amazon
September 5, 2017


It's been three months since Abi Logan last checked in on Abbey Glen, the celebrated whisky distillery she inherited.  With her oversize wheaten terrier, Liam, by her side, Abi returns to the quaint Scottish village of Balfour.  But her relaxing Highland homecoming takes a stressful turn when she unearths an unseemly bit of village history, welcomes a group of Japanese whisky enthusiasts, and becomes sherpherdess to an unexpected flock of sheep - all within the first twenty-four hours.  Still, nothing's more stressful than murder...

Local celebrity Rory Hendricks is the hotheaded, hard-rocking former frontman of the Rebels - and Abi's girlhood crush.  After meeting him in person, Abi can't say no to anything he asks, like photographing his upcoming show...or figuring out who's trying to kill him.  Turns out someone's been bumping off his old bandmates, with the drummer dead under mysterious circumstances and the keyboardist in a coma following a hit-and-run.  Now a series of threatening messages leads Rory to think he's next on the chopping bock.  And the band has a devil's share of broken hearts and bitter disputes in their past, leaving Abi a huge batch of suspects to sift though - all before the killer takes another shot.


Abi Logan is a photojournalist who inherited half of a distillery in Scotland from her uncle.  She's returned home after three months for rest and relaxation, but it's to be short-lived when she receives a cryptic message from a Mr. Rory Hendricks who wants to meet with her, stating they have a mutual friend in common.  Add to this that old bones have been found buried near the Stag pub, and Abi wonders once again about the history of Balfour.

When she meets with Mr. Hendricks she discovers that his other persona was as Mickey Dawson, lead guitarist for the band the Rebels.  He's heard about her and needs her help in flushing out a killer.  Someone is targeting his band mates, and he thinks he's next on the list.  There's also been trouble at his daughter Summer's art gallery, with painting stolen and lyrics from his songs painted on the wall.

Then Abi's friend Patrick has begged her help with Japanese distillers who want to visit her Abbey Glen, and needs her to convince her partner Grant that it's a good idea; which doesn't sit well with either her nor Grant.  However, Abi's caved to Rory, and now she's got his daughter Summer staying at Grant's home to help, and trying to figure out who is killing the band members, and if she can keep him safe or is it already too late?..

This is the second book in the series and I really wanted to like it, but there were issues I just couldn't get past.  Abi has this wonderful home in the Highlands, a distillery that's making money, and she still won't live there, preferring to travel to war zones.  What does she do with Liam, her dog, while she's traveling?  Does she take the dog on these dangerous missions?  And who will take care of the dog if something happens to her?  Nothing is ever said.

Then one can see the attraction between her and Grant; it's palpable in the air and yet they don't talk to each other; he thinks she's involved with Rory, and she practically threw Summer at him - and Patrick, her friend, is also throwing Summer at Grant.

The mystery takes second place to this, and I don't know if it's supposed to, but because of the back-and-forth between her wondering about how Grant feels about Summer and being depressed over it; there's also the mystery of what happened to the Fletcher brothers back in the 1700's, who were the original owners.  So everything feels more broken up than it should.

In the end, I didn't really like Abi as a person.  She states as how she's independent and stubborn, (well, so are a lot of people) which makes her wrong for relationships (but these facts don't stop others from having them).  She's a personal coward - she can go into war zones but isn't willing to face her own fears when it comes to having a relationship.  I don't really care for characters that aren't willing to at least try, and she won't.  She'll run (her words), which is the act of a coward.

The sad thing is, this could have been a very good book, but there are just too many characters to sift through.  It wouldn't have made any difference if the author was using every single inhabitant of Balfour in the book; yes, there were that many people involved.  By the time I got to the end, I didn't really care about the mystery any more because of the sheer amount of characters not a single person was fleshed out and we couldn't care about any of them (Rory was dissolute, Summer was all fluff, etc.) which brings us to the question of Abi again:

If Abi doesn't change her thoughts and learn to take a personal risk - which is the greatest risk of all; because if you aren't willing to take that risk, then you might as well hide yourself away - then I am so done with the series.  I'm not willing to read books with fifty characters and have the main one biting her nails wondering 'should I?' pacing the floor (which is what it felt like) trying to decide if she should show a backbone.


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