Lil Pingwing’s Cozy Corner: Deadly Dram
Distillery owner Abigail Logan discovers that high spirits are no match for a cold-blooded killer as the Whisky Business Mystery series puts a fatal twist on stiff competition.
It’s been a year since globe-trotting photojournalist Abi Logan inherited Abbey Glen, a whisky distillery in the heart of the Scottish countryside. To her surprise, the village of Balfour already feels like home, and her new business partner, Grant MacEwan, continues to be too charming to resist. But Abi has a history of relationship disasters, so she struggles to avoid an ill-fated romance with Grant. Steering clear is hard enough on a day-to-day basis, but when the two head off to a whisky industry competition together, Abi panics. Five-star resort, four glorious days of nonstop whisky tasting, and a fatally attractive Scotsman—what could possibly go wrong?
The night before the award presentations, with foreign and domestic whisky makers at one anothers’ throats, two judges are found dead under mysterious circumstances. What started with three dream-come-true nominations for Abby Glen’s whisky soon turns into a nightmare for Abi. With a killer on the loose, she must call on her investigative skills to stop another murder—before she gets taken out of the running herself.
While this is the third book in the series, it was my first time reading a book from Melinda Mullet’s Whiskey Business series and I have to say that I need to read the other books — fast! I’m always a little wary of starting a book mid-series, but this mystery was so exciting and the setting was fun and overall the series was a lot better than I thought it would be at first glance.
From what I can gather, Abi Logan worked as a photojournalist before moving to Scotland to take over a whiskey distillery that her deceased uncle left her (I assume this is covered in greater detail in the first two books). As owner of the distillery, she is required to attend a prestigious whiskey competition, where her whiskey is up for several important awards. While nervous about attending such a fancy event, Abi and her Wheaton Terrier, Liam, set off for the event, not expecting to encounter murder as members of the judging panel are taken out, one by one.
I have to say that I love how Abi worked as a photojournalist. It sounds like she had a cool job taking photographs in dangerous locations and asking people tough questions (which seems to come in handy as she investigates the murders), but it also gives her an inside scoop when the local detective needs Abi to photograph the death scenes due to the lack of resources in the rural area of the hotel. Taking pictures gives her access to the crime scenes, lets her look for clues, and gives her more of an equal footing in her discussions (or arguments) with the detective.
Abi attends the awards with her dog, Liam, her best friend Patrick, and her distiller (but also maybe love interest?) Grant and has to manage not only hobnobbing with the who’s who of the whiskey world, but also trying to figure out who killed two judges at the event. I have to say that I really like how the book mentions Abi’s experience of feeling pushed out by the whiskey elite because she’s a woman (again, this may have also happened in earlier books), but then goes through a series of uncomfortable emotions when she meets a woman at the event who has been working in the industry for longer than her. I like that Abi is self-aware enough to feel uncomfortable about her jealousy, and to label it as such (that another woman has already blazed the trail that she thought she was blazing), rather than just painting the woman in a purely negative light. I thought it was a small point, but a nuanced one that I appreciated.
There was a lot of whiskey in this book and I know nothing about it! I usually like having my cozies being about topics that I know at least something about (like knitting or embroidery), but this was fun because there was so much that was new to me (like detailed discussions about what kind of barrels are good for whiskey, or even discussions about the politics of geography, which played a prominent role in this book). I like that there was a fun, tough-to-solve mystery, but also a subject that was brand new to me.
I will say that had I read the previous books, I think I would have been able to get a bit more engrossed in the book. However, even though I was jumping in mid-series, I really enjoyed this book from start to finish. I think there was even a time when I delayed going to sleep even though the baby was asleep in his crib just because I was so close to finishing the book (and given how little sleep I am running on, this is a really big deal). I have already put in two requests to my library to buy the other books in the series, though knowing me I will be impatient and just buy the books myself.