Review: Single Malt Murder by Melinda Mullet

singlemaltAbout Single Malt Murder

• Series: Whiskey Business Mysteries (#1)
• Kindle Edition:
 300 pages
• Published: March 2017 by Alibi
• Source: Netgalley

Goodreads DescriptionAbigail Logan never expected to inherit a whisky distillery in the Scottish Highlands. But in the first novel of an engaging new series blending fine spirits with chilling mystery, Abi finds that there are secrets lurking in the misty glens that some will go to any lengths to protect . . . even murder.

When Abi inherits her uncle’s quaint and storied single malt distillery, she finds herself immersed in a competitive high-stakes business that elicits deep passions and prejudices. An award-winning photojournalist, Abi has no trouble capturing the perfect shot—but making the perfect shot is another matter.When she starts to receive disturbing, anonymous threats, it’s clear that someone wants her out of the picture. But Abi’s never been one to back down from a fight.

Arriving on the scene with her whisky-loving best friend, Patrick, and an oversized wheaten terrier named Liam, Abi seems to put everyone in the bucolic village on edge—especially her dour but disturbingly attractive head distiller. Acts of sabotage and increasingly personal threats against Abi make it clear that she is not welcome. When one of Abi’s new employees is found floating facedown in a vat of whisky, Abi is determined to use her skills as an investigative journalist to identify the cold-blooded killer and dispense a dram of justice before he strikes again. But distilling truth from lies is tricky, especially when everyone seems to have something to hide.

My Thoughts

Oh my word, Single Malt Murder has so many things going for it just from the description alone. Scottish Highlands. (Outlander, anyone?!) Whiskey (though it’s spelled whisky in this which drove me batty). Adorable dog. About the only thing that would have made me want to read it more would have been two dogs.

In Single Malt Murder, we meet Abi, an award-winning photojournalist who’s just inherited a whiskey distillery from her uncle Ben. The distillery happens to be in Scotland (Abi lives in London), so she packs up her wheaten terrier Liam and her best friend Patrick and heads over to check it out. She quickly finds out that women aren’t exactly welcome in the whiskey business – it’s an old boys’ club if you’ve ever seen one – and starts getting threatening notes and packages. Then, a body is discovered in one of the malt tanks. It’s looking more and more like someone doesn’t want Abbey Glen (the distillery) to survive.

I really like Abi. She’s a lot more methodical and rational than a lot of cozy protagonists – she doesn’t cause trouble, she doesn’t really make anyone mad at her, and she has a knack for drawing out information in a way that feels natural. Must be that investigative journalist bit. She takes her time before drawing too many conclusions, and thinks outside the box and questions everything, rather than just pouncing on the first clue she uncovers. It’s refreshing to read a cozy and agree with most everything the main character is doing. I’ve read plenty of others where I’m shaking my head, thinking something along the lines of, “Come on, now, think. That makes no sense, don’t chase that red herring.”

The rest of the characters were likeable enough, and you’ve got your relatively standard cast of cozy characters. Liam the dog doesn’t have much presence, which made me a little sad, and I also thought Abi was a bit careless with him (she lets him run loose when a building is on fire). That’s just me being a crazy dog mom though.

As for the rest of it, Mullet has an impressive vocabulary. I really appreciated the care she took in writing the story – she truly made her words count. I even learned a new word – sybaritic, which means fond of luxury or self-indulgent. Isn’t that a great word? And who would have ever expected to learn new words in a cozy mystery? Not me, that’s for sure.

I’d have liked a little more description of the setting, and while Mullet did try to explain the distilling process, I had a hard time following it. Part of that might be the complexity of distilling, but I kept thinking back to how Joyce Tremel describes beer brewing in her cozy series, Brewing Trouble. While also complex, Tremel does a great job dumbing it down enough to grasp, and I think Mullet would benefit from a similar approach.

Single Malt Murder is the first book from Melinda Mullet, and will be released tomorrow, March 21st. This is definitely a series I’ll continue reading!

Thanks to Alibi/Random House and Netgalley for the ARC!