Halloween Humor and B&B Murders | Mystery & Suspense Review Spotlight

Readers who appreciate the community life in a tourist destination town or the appeal of a story with a craft beer background will enjoy this latest cozy; Byron’s readers and fans of Jenn McKinlay’s humorous mysteries will appreciate this latest story that incorporates family and food

Alexander, Ellie. Without a Brew. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. (Sloan Krause, Bk. 4). Oct. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781250205773. $26.99. M
Sloan Krause and her boss and fellow brewer, Garrett, had planned a soft opening of Nitro, their craft beer–themed B&B in the Leavenworth, WA, Bavarian Village. But this weekend, the small town is overrun with visitors for IceFest, the winter-themed festival. Sloan and Garrett already had one couple staying at Nitro. They end up with five more guests, including a quartet led by an obnoxious, self-important man. When one of the guests is missing the next morning, Sloan calls the police. The discovery of the body means one of Nitro’s visitors may be a killer, and one of their first guests is dead. Sloan is already dealing with her looming divorce, plans to buy a cottage in town, and the ongoing search for her birth mother. The ever-steady Sloan’s collapse puts her in the path of a killer.
VERDICT The ongoing mystery of Sloan’s past is just one element in the follow-up to Beyond a Reasonable Stout. Readers who appreciate the community life in a tourist destination town or the appeal of a story with a craft beer background will enjoy this latest cozy with a strong supporting cast of characters.—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Byron, Ellen. Murder in the Bayou Boneyard. Crooked Lane. (Cajun Country, Bk. 6). Sept. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781643854601. $26.99. M
The B&Bs in Pelican, LA, are having difficulties competing with a company buying up property, so Maggie Crozat comes up with a scheme that each B&B will host special events to celebrate Pelican’s spooky past. She has the bright idea that Crozat Plantation B&B will host a spa, and invites a Canadian cousin she’s never met, Susannah MacDowell, to be the ­massage therapist. ­Susannah shows up with her obnoxious, demanding family. Guests report seeing a scary rougarou, a legendary werewolf combined with a vampire, and people cancel their reservations. When a costumed rougarou dies at the mystery play in a cemetery, Maggie becomes the primary suspect. Her event plans are a disaster. She and her grandmother had planned a double wedding on New Year’s Eve, but grandma has turned into a bridezilla. Then the local police chief collapses in their family kitchen. With all of her family as murder suspects, Maggie has to solve the case, or she’ll be wearing an orange jumpsuit for her wedding instead of a traditional gown. ­
VERDICT Halloween, humor, and Louisiana legends are the key to the award-winning author’s follow-up to Fatal Cajun Festival. Byron’s readers and fans of Jenn McKinlay’s humorous mysteries will appreciate this latest story that incorporates family and food.—Lesa Holstine, Evansville ­Vanderburgh P.L., IN

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