My rating: 4 of 5 stars
4 stars to Melinda Mullet‘s Single Malt Murder: A Whisky Business Mystery, the first book in the new “Whisky Business” cozy mystery series. I stumbled across this book on NetGalley as a pre-release opportunity to read and review. I’m so glad I did! It was a fantastic new cozy with all the Scottish charm you’d come to expect… and now I may need to take up whisky drinking (even more than the Jack Daniels I already enjoy too frequently)!
Abi Logan’s a semi-famous photographer in London, whose parents passed away in a car accident when she was 8 years-old. Her father’s brother, Uncle Ben, raised her in his flat until she joined a newspaper and traveled the world for a story. He retired to a small town in Scotland where he purchased a single malt whisky distillery and made a core group of new friends and family. When he passes away from cancer, she inherits the distillery and heads to Scotland to find a buyer and say goodbye to him. But she quickly learns the old-fashioned whisky team don’t take too kindly to a woman trying to run things. She finds a few friendly souls and begins to find someone to help her run the place until she can sell it; however, she receives several threats to get out quickly, later finding the dead body of the son of her late uncle’s girlfriend drowned in a whisky barrel. More threats and a few additional deaths fall across her path… leading her and best friend Patrick to try to solve the investigation before she ends up a victim herself!
1. The description and coverage of the whisky-making process is delectable. I’ve never been much of a straight-whisky drinker… the occasional glass over ice on a cold night has been known to occur. I have been a long-time imbiber when it comes to a splash of ginger ale and lime wedge. Delicious! But now I’ve learned so much about the process, I want to try good whisky — and on its own! Go into this read lightly, you might become an addict quickly.
2. Patrick and Abi have a great relationship. She’s smart, no nonsense and independent. He’s witty, business-savvy and a good listener. He’s also gay, so no worry about any relationship-type issues. I hope he finds a couple of good paramours… it’d be fun to see how the writer handles it in the small Scottish town. Abi’s already got one suitor based on her interactions and it’s got the potential to steam up the pages. Just think “what’s under that kilt?” and you can leave the rest to your imagination.
3. The story is clever and has several different paths. Lots of characters and suspects without over-doing it. A good amount of red herrings. A fair hustle of danger. I read it almost entirely in one sitting, as each new chapter covered a different angle.
1. One concern is the breadth of future stories… how much can really occur in a whisky distillery after the debut is all about who will end up owning it? One option which the author seems to be considering is that Abi won’t live in the Scottish town as she ends up back in London at the end of the book, undecided about next steps. Perhaps that’s just to carry us to book 2, but I’d like her to stay and see how the story could combine her world travels as a photographer / reporter and as a distillery-owner.
2. Some of the supporting characters were a little too similar. I will remember 1 or 2, but the rest blended together enough that I may forget when I start the next book. I think some time may need to focus on bringing forth a stable of 4 or 5 core supporting characters, each with clear and distinct personalities. It’s minor and easily addressed.
Give this new series a chance. It’s a non-traditional setting (at least for me) in a small Scottish town. It’s got a girl with no family left, so it’ll be interesting to see how she handles life “on her own” and assembles a new family. Patrick will definitely make the series stand out. And the writing is clean and interesting, especially with hints of Scottish brogue thrown about!