An Ale of Two Cities (A Literary Pub Mystery)
2nd in Series
Setting – Vermont
Publisher: Kensington (November 26, 2019)
Hardcover: 288 pages
Kindle ASIN: B07PBS7F63
The Winter Carnival always brings holiday cheer, Christmas joy—and tourists with cash—to picturesque Shady Creek, Vermont. At the center of the glittering decorations and twinkling lights is booklover and pub owner Sadie Coleman, creating original cocktails, hosting a literary trivia evening, and cheering on her loyal employee Melanie “Mel” Costas as she competes in the ice carving competition.
But holiday cheer can’t compete with former resident and renowned chef Freddy Mancini, who arrives with his nose in the air, showing off his ice-sculpting skills like a modern-day Michelangelo. During the artists’ break in the night-long contest, Mel’s tools disappear . . . and Freddy is found dead with her missing pick in his chest.
Although the police turn their attention to Mel, it seems everyone in town had a grudge against Freddy, including his assistant, his mentor, his former flame, and even his half-brother.
Faster than she can fling a Huckleberry Gin, Sadie finds herself racing to make sure the police don’t arrest the wrong suspect—all while sharing a flirtation with local brewery owner Grayson Blake. Their chemistry leads to a heated rivalry at the hockey rink—and to the hot pursuit of a killer.
We arrive in Shady Creek, Vermont just in time for the Winter Festival. An overnight ice carving competition is the big event but there are hockey games, sleigh rides, a chili supper, and the Inkwell, Sadie Coleman’s literary-themed pub, is holding a trivia contest. Tourists are pouring in along with the Shady Creek residents to enjoy the fun. A former resident has even come home to participate in the ice carving contest.
Freddy Mancini is now a chef who has a pretty high opinion of himself. He assumes he will grab the big $5000 prize while rubbing his fame in everyone’s faces. Sadie is cheering on her friend and employee Melanie “Mel” Costas who has won the last few years. Mel isn’t intimidated by Frankie, but while on her lunch break someone steals all ger tools. She vows to soldier on as a friend returns to the park with her backup tools. That is until she hears Sadie screaming and finds her outside of the community hall, not far from the dead body of Chef Frankie Mancini, with Mel’s missing ice pick protruding from his chest.
Turns out the chef had plenty of enemies but the evidence points clearly at Mel. Sadie is determined not to let her friend get iced for the crime, even if it means some pain before the final gain.
I have been excited about this book since I finished the first one! I love the setting so much. A pub full of books, a menu full of literary-themed foods and drink, all reached by going over a little footbridge above Shady Creek. The town park is nearby as are all the businesses and the community hall. The snow would be a little iffy for me but everyone there loves it and takes it in stride. If I could go back in time I would have said yes when asked to take over my parent’s tavern and turned it into a pub like the Inkwell. Now, I am delighted to escape to Sadie’s pub within the pages of her books.
Okay, the setting is ideal but so are the characters. I really like Sadie and she is surrounded by family and friends that support and love her. She dealt with some really heavy stuff in the last book but she is moving forward the best she can. She and the other characters continue to evolve in exciting ways. Mel is in the hot seat this time. The people who know her, know she had nothing to do with the murder, but there are some shaky times for her.
Meanwhile, Sadie thinks the pub needs to have a team in the upcoming hockey tournament and she puts a motley crew together. Grayson is still hanging around and definitely has something on his mind besides an upcoming hockey game. Aunt Gilda and her friends are wrapped up in the chili supper but she is always there for Sadie. All the characters are genuine and people I would love to hang out with.
The mystery is very well done too. Chef Freddy is a real jerk and as such there are plenty of suspects. Sadie is one of those sleuths that has good instincts but she doesn’t always think things through before she opens her mouth or jumps into a situation. Of course, that adds to the drama and the fun. The author has plotted out a story with a plethora of twists that kept me guessing right up to the very end.
An Ale of Two Cities is a very entertaining read. Set in the holiday season it is a perfect book to curl up with in front of a fire on a wintery afternoon or evening. Skip to the end of the book for a cocktail recipe and fix yourself a Count Dracula or Evil Stepmother cocktail to enjoy while you’re reading.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”