I jumped on this new series because of the interesting premise of a lady brew-master. I reviewed the debut novel, To Brew, or Not To Brew (click here), and a guest post (click here). The second in the series is out and I again jumped at the chance to review it. Here is the second in the Brewing Trouble mystery series, see what you think.
Copyright: Oct 2016 (Berkley) 304 pgs
Series: 2nd in Brewing Trouble Mystery series
Sensuality: G rated
Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy
Main Characters: Maxine “Max” O’Hara, Brewmaster and owner of The Allegheny Brew House
Setting: Modern day, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review
From the Book cover: "Brew pub owner Maxine “Max” O’Hara and her chef/boyfriend, Jake Lambert, are excited to be participating in the Three Rivers Brews and Burgers Festival. Max hopes to win the coveted Golden Stein for best craft beer—but even if she doesn’t, the festival will be great publicity for her Allegheny Brew House.
Or will it? When notoriously nasty food and beverage critic Reginald Mobley is drafted as a last-minute replacement judge, Max dreads a punishing review. Her fears are confirmed when Mobley literally spits out her beer, but things get even worse when the cranky critic drops dead right after trying one of Jake’s burgers. Now an ambitious new police detective is determined to pin Mobley’s murder on Max and Jake, who must pore over the clues to protect their freedom and reputations—and to find the self-appointed judge, jury, and executioner."
Maxine “Max” O’Hara has gumption balanced with a kind nature. Jake Lambert, former ice hockey player and childhood friend of her brothers is the romantic interest. I'm not a romance novel fan, but this is so G rated as to be reminiscent of Nancy Drew with her boyfriend. But my concern is now Max and Jake are dating, there is no spark or tension between them and seems they will be best buds with a kiss occasionally. Max's father, Sean Sr., is a police detective that in this 2nd entry in the series is teamed with a young detective, Vincent Falk, who is out to make his reputation - at Jake and Max's expense. Brothers Father Sean, the Catholic Priest, and Mike are protective and bit walk on roles. There are several colorful characters associated with the Festival as well that keep this interesting. I was glad that rival breweries and brew pubs got along and Max was one of them.
Pittsburgh is given life with through the interesting tidbits that natives know and take for granted, excellent job there. The plot is classic with the killer cleverly hidden in plain site. The pacing was effective, keeping me interested and made for a story I had a hard time putting down. The climax had action and some heroism.
I like the writing style and Max makes a unique heroine, but the Jake and Max chemistry from the debut was sorely missing which did impact the story for me. Otherwise a solid mystery to delve into. I liked the festival theme as the backdrop which bolstered the mystery.
Rating: Very Good - I enjoyed it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list