A Houston reporter-turned-mixologist mixes it up with murder in this series debut from Michelle Hillen Klump, superbly catering to fans of Diane Mott Davidson and Lee Hollis.
Bad news for Samantha Warren: The plucky Houston, Texas, reporter lost her job and her fiancé in rapid succession. But Sam has a way of making lemonade out of the bitterest of lemons. At a meeting of the local historical-homes council, she serves up the homemade bitters that she made as gifts for her wedding party. She intends to use that as her “in” to become an in-demand party mixologist. But the party’s over for one of the council members, who keels over dead soon after he sips the bereft bride’s bitter brew.
It turns out that the victim, Mark, was poisoned—his drink spiked with oleander. Since Sam mixed the drink that Mark imbibed right before his demise, she finds herself at the front of the suspect line. Now, she’ll have to use all of her reporter’s wisdom and wiles to clear her name.
Who could have wanted Mark dead? His wife, Gabby? His girlfriend, Darcy? Someone who wanted his seat on the council? Or another citizen of this sweet Texas town that holds some seedy secrets?
Job hunting, building her mixology business, and fending off late-night phone calls from her nearly betrothed don’t leave much time for sleuthing. But if Sam can’t “pour” over the clues to find the killer, it may soon be last call for her.
Sam is still coming to terms with the break up with Greg, going through the motions. Her friends, Marisa and Beth, convince her to use up the bitters she'd created as wedding favors for the wedding that didn't happen and help with cocktails at as part of the tour of homes for the historical society. Only one of the commission members dies after drinking her offering, poisoned by Oleander. Other than Greg, she only knows one attorney and when the police start questioning her, she calls Greg's boss, David. And she starts investigating.
When she is told not to come to work as she's been mentioned in relation to the murder and the man's ex-wife names her in a law suit, she steps up her game. Her reporter background makes it difficult for her to accept the simplest answer - she's not convinced. David, her friends, Greg, and everyone else is telling her to stay out of it. At the same time, Greg has decided he made a mistake and is making her crazy and she may have found a market for her mixology, as well as the killer.
he plot moves along with most of the tension surrounding relationships and not obvious threats. It's well written and flows. In the course of solving the murder, Sam becomes more sure of herself and kicks Greg to the curb. I'm not into mixology, bitters, or bourbon, but I still enjoyed this mystery. The killer wasn't obvious and the more Sam discovered the more questions she had. This is the first in this series and I'll be looking for the next one. An added bonus is the recipe at the end of the book.
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.
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About the Author
Michelle Hillen Klump is a former newspaper reporter who covered government, courts and crime throughout Arkansas and Central Texas. Still a working journalist, she is also a member of Sisters in Crime. Her short fiction has appeared in Crimson Streets and Tales of Texas, volume 2, a Houston short story anthology.
Thank you so much for having me on the blog today, and for the lovely review!ReplyDelete
Perfect combination of a good book and something to drink along with it. Cannot wait to start reading it.ReplyDelete
You're right - a great combination. Thanks for stopping by.Delete