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To Brew or Not to Brew
Brewing Trouble Mystery #1
Joyce Tremel

Berkley Prime Crime
December 1, 2015/ ISBN 978-0-425-27769-0
Mystery/Cozy/Amateur Sleuth

Reviewed by Laura Hinds


To Brew or Not to Brew is the first in a new series featuring Maxine (Max) O'Hara, a certified brew-master who is opening a new craft brewpub in her hometown of Pittsburgh. She had achieved her certification in Germany, and returned home with an assistant brew-master named Kurt Schmidt, who was also a chef. The duo wasexcited and getting ready for their grand opening, despite a spate of mishaps, which Kurt believed to be sabotage. It seemed that someone did not want the pub to open. Once Kurt found evidence and was ready to tell Max who the perpetrator was, the guilty party murdered him.

Max's father is a detective on the local police force and he is not convinced that Kurt was killed. It looks like it was an accident, and without proof to the contrary he isn't ready to call it a homicide. Yet Max knows in her gut that Kurt was killed and she's determined to get to the bottom of things. Fortunately, she is able to hire a new chef, an ex-hockey player named Jake, a friend of one of her brothers, and the guy she'd had a huge crush on during their teenage years. Max adopts a stray kitten she finds in the alley near the pub and names her Hops. It looks like both Jake and Hops hold the keys to Max's heart, and both relationships begin to blossom.

When another murder occurs things get serious quickly, and before the next vat of beer can ferment, Max has to find out who is behind the killings so she won't become another victim!

I enjoyed this book a lot and found it to be a unique entry into a genre filled with coffee shops, tea shops, bakeries and bookstores. Mind you, I enjoy reading all of those types of cozy mysteries too, but the craft brewpub stands out as something new and different. Joyce Tremel writes in a comfortable style, with realistic characters and a believable plot.

Veteran cozy mystery readers should definitely pick up a copy of To Brew or Not to Brew. It's a breath of fresh air written by a new author and has the potential to be the next hit series.

Reviewed 2015