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.
I've have fallen in love with Ellie Alexander's writing and her two mystery series set in fictional small towns in the Pacific Northwest. The Bakeshop Mysteries and the Sloan Krause mysteries transport you to communities and towns that I would love to visit for their climate, the friendliness of the inhabitants, the absence of crime (except as relates to these mysterious murders) and the delicious food available. In the way that I'd escape to St Mary's Mead, I am happy to spend hours in Leavenworth, Washington with Sloan Krause and her Krause family and Garrett and her Nitro workplace family.
From the earlier mysteries, it is clear that while Sloan and her husband have separated, the Krause holds Sloan close and she remains an important part of the brewery and the town. In #3 of the series, Beyond A Reasonable Stout, Sloan learns about her mother and that the Krauses had known her biological family. Sloan is upset at Ursula and draws away from the Krauses as she learns more about her past. But there is only so much that you can push away family and in Without A Brew we return to the mystery of Sloan's past and try to heal the breach with her mother-in-law and close friend Ursula.
I'm drawn to the Sloan Krause mysteries because of the relationships in the Krause family. But as Without A Brew is a murder mystery, Ellie Alexander goes far beyond the family drama. Nitro is led to open their B&B earlier than they'd hoped. Their soft opening brings them a strange mix of guests. When one of their guests is found dead, Sloan and Garrett are led to investigate the murder. They uncover more than one motive and several potential suspects. With more bravery than sense, Sloan undertakes to test the alibis and narrow down the suspects. Without A Brew delivers the sense of community, delight in food and drink and an engaging mystery.
About the Author: ELLIE ALEXANDER is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she's not coated in flour, you'll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. She is the author of the Bakeshop Mysteries, including Meet Your Baker and A Batter of Life and Death, as well as the Sloan Krause mysteries.