Saturday, December 19, 2015

To Brew or Not to Brew

Author:  Joyce Tremel
Series:  A Brewing Trouble Mystery
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley Prime Crime

Description:  The Allegheny Brew House is a dream come true for Maxine “Max” O’Hara, who went all the way to Germany for her brewmaster certification, and is now preparing to open her own craft brew pub in a newly revitalized section of Pittsburgh. But before she can start pouring stouts and lagers to thirsty throngs, there’s trouble on tap. Suspicious acts of sabotage culminate in Max finding her assistant brewmaster and chef Kurt Schmidt strangled in one of the vats.
Between rescuing a stray gray tabby she names Hops and considering a handsome ex-hockey player as her new chef, Max doesn't have a lot of time to solve a murder. But with a homicide detective for a dad, she comes to criminal investigation naturally. And if someone is desperate enough to kill to stop her from opening, Max needs to act fast—before her brand-new brew biz totally tanks.
My Review
This is the first in a series by a new voice in cozy mystery, Joyce Tremel.  I found this to be a very enjoyable first book.  I initially picked up this book because I had heard really good advance buzz, I loved the cover and I liked that this was a new theme in cozy mysteries.  I haven't seen anything set in a brewery and liked that it was a female brewmaster.
The story grabbed me right from the beginning and started out strong.  The story was well written and I found the mystery to be solid.  For as many cozy mysteries as I read, you would think that I would be better at figuring out the identity of the killer.  With this book, I figured out who the culprit was along with Max, our main character.  There were plenty of suspects and a few red herrings thrown in for good measure.  The only criticism is that I thought there was a lull in the story toward the mid part of the book.  However, the author used this as a way to set up the back story for some of the characters that I think will be beneficial for future installments.  By the end of the book, the pace did pick back up leading to a terrific ending.

I found all of the characters to be well written, likable and fully rounded.  There are plenty of secondary characters including Max's family, which includes most of her brothers, along with some other shop owners in the area of the brewery.  There is a budding romance between Max and Jake, her brother's friend and the chef for the brewery.  I liked that the author is taking it slowly and building their relationship.  The two have know each other since they were children so it was realistic for them to take their time when changing the dynamics of that relationship.  The characters and their various relationships, for me, are what drove the book and kept me turning the pages quickly.

In the end, I found this to be a wonderful first book in a new series, by a delightful new voice in cozy mysteries.  The book provides a preview of the second installment in the series and I have to say I can't wait to go back to the brewery and visit with all of the characters again soon.  There are also a few recipes provided at the end of the story.


  1. Thank you, Peggy! I'm so glad you liked it!

  2. Now you've sold me on this book. Going over to download it now. Thanks.