by Sandra Murphy
Details at the end of this post on how to win a copy of To Brew or Not to Brew, along with links to purchase the book.
Maxine (Max) O’Hara traveled to Germany to get her brewmaster’s certification and then spent months finding just the right spot for her brewpub in a revitalized section of Pittsburgh. Kurt, technically her assistant but more of a right hand guy, knows all about brewing beer. His father was one of Max’s instructors. He’s also a great cook and will take care of the food side of the pub. A stickler for perfection, he works continuously to achieve a unique taste for familiar foods like kirschtorte (chocolate cherry cake).
When the final inspection rolls around, a pipe has a deep cut that wasn’t there the day before. Kurt is sure it’s one of a series of mishaps that spells sabotage. Max just wants to open on time and to large crowds of happy people.
In his quest to make final tweaks to the kirschtorte recipe, Kurt stays to close so Max can have a relaxing evening before the big day. Just as she’s ready for bed, Kurt calls and asks her to return—he’s figured out who’s behind the pranks.
There’s no sign of Kurt when Max arrives. After a search, she finds him dead in the brewing area. Besides the shock of finding a body, she’s lost a close friend, someone who shared her vision for the pub and who could make delicious food.
The police think it was an accident but Max knows better, Kurt was never a careless person. She upgrades security with an alarm system but still someone is getting into the building. It seems someone’s dead set on making sure the brewery’s opening is cancelled for good.
As far as suspects go, Max is at a loss until she finds out there’s a historical group against her opening. The building was originally a brewery—how can she hurt the history by restoring it? Several other businesses worry about drunks or loud music. Still, murder seems like a stretch.
Max’s brother Mike says he knows someone that might be able to take over the kitchen. An old friend, a pro hockey player, shows up and Max wonders who he’d know that could cook. To her surprise, he wants the job. He’s about reached his expiration date as a hockey player and took up cooking during the off season. The dishes he’s able to whip up for her to taste make the decision easy, not to mention the teenage crush she had on him.
Max does have a lot of good friends who believe in her. Candy, runs the bakery, Kristen, supplies caffeine to early birds, Daisy, the florist, Ken the sandwich guy, Elmer the elderly man who appointed himself Max’s bodyguard, her family and Hops, the kitten Max rescued—all want to help.
This is the first in a new series. The pub is a place you’d love to stop by after work or for a mid-day lunch, whether you drink beer or not. The shops up and down the street would encourage you to walk off a few calories while window shopping. Max and Jake have the beginnings of a romance or at least an attraction going on. Watching that unfold will be fun. There’s a lot of information about brewing beer but it’s not intrusive to the story. There are recipes too—a version of Kurt’s Black Forest Cake and Jake’s Buffalo Chicken Pierogies.
This is a series I look forward to reading, especially since Tangled Up in Brew is due out soon.
To enter to win a copy of To Brew or Not to Brew, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Brew,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen January 2, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.
You can use one of these links to order this book: