Book Review: Single Malt Murder

Written by: Melinda Mullet
Series: A Whiskey Business Mystery
Sequence in Series: Book 1
Audiobook: 9h 57 m
Read By: Gemma Dawson                                                                                                         Ebook: 300 pages
Publisher: Alibi
Publication Date: March 21, 2017                                                                                              IBSN: 9780399179051
Genre: Women’s Fiction | Mystery & Suspense

Amazon

Abigail Logan never expected to inherit a whisky distillery in the Scottish Highlands. But in the first novel of an engaging new series blending fine spirits with chilling mystery, Abi finds that there are secrets lurking in the misty glens that some will go to any lengths to protect . . . even murder.

When Abi inherits her uncle’s quaint and storied single malt distillery, she finds herself immersed in a competitive high-stakes business that elicits deep passions and prejudices. An award-winning photojournalist, Abi has no trouble capturing the perfect shot—but making the perfect shot is another matter. When she starts to receive disturbing, anonymous threats, it’s clear that someone wants her out of the picture. But Abi’s never been one to back down from a fight.

Arriving on the scene with her whisky-loving best friend, Patrick, and an oversized wheaten terrier named Liam, Abi seems to put everyone in the bucolic village on edge—especially her dour but disturbingly attractive head distiller. Acts of sabotage and increasingly personal threats against Abi make it clear that she is not welcome. When one of Abi’s new employees is found floating face down in a vat of whisky, Abi is determined to use her skills as an investigative journalist to identify the cold-blooded killer and dispense a dram of justice before he strikes again. But distilling truth from lies is tricky, especially when everyone seems to have something to hide.

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This is a first foray into mystery and suspense by Melinda Mullet. I listened to it via Audible as read by Gemma Dawson, whose inflections were wonderful and whose accents seemed spot on to my untrained ear. It was easy to listen to and passed the time pleasantly enough. Because it is about Highland Scotch, I paired it with a Dalmore Cigar Malt. I thought a Cordoba & Morales: Finca Santa Fe FSG would be lovely with the Dalmore Cigar Malt.

The most puzzling thing about the book were its inconsistencies. The main heroine, Abi, is a photojournalist from war torn environments yet is frightened by the delivery of thistles as a threat to her safety. The most loveable character, Liam, is her trusted dog companion whose ability to tell someone with good character from someone with bad character is something Abi more than once points out and relies on. Yet the dog is nonreactive to one bad guy and loves the other bad guy. When the dog acts defensive at windows, Abi completely ignores the behavior as an indication danger might be nearby. Her best friend in the whole world travels with her to give her support during the ordeal of her uncles death but instead shows more interest in perusing the private Scotch collection of the dearly departed. He fears for her life with the threats but doesn’t force her to report them and promptly leaves town.

The other inconsistencies are more like glaring inaccuracies due to an unfamiliarity with the world in which the story is set. Examples are that in a distillery, it’s carbon dioxide that will kill you, not carbon monoxide and that a Scottish village would have a High Street rather than a Main Street. I find it confusing that the book would be set in an area of the world the author is unfamiliar with insofar as idioms and differences from the US or London. I find it almost offensive that the book presents the distilling of single malt whisky in an almost educational manner to the reader but then kills off a character incorrectly.

The plot itself was a decent one, well thought out, just poorly delivered through easily forgotten characters. Plot driven stories are perfectly fine and can be beautifully told, but in this case it created a consistently flat delivery. Throughout the book, the author makes the mistake of confusing strength with lack of appropriate reaction. Abi has been in situations most others will never experience. This does not mean she will be nonplussed by stumbling across a body and sneak back for personal photos on her phone to use in an investigation she doesn’t even know she’ll be doing later. With each turn, Abi’s reaction is never really one of shock or concern, not for the murders that happen nor for her own safety. Even after she has a near death experience, her nonchalance means that no tension or sense of suspense is built.

Overall, the reading of the story was entertaining, and I would listen to Gemma Dawson again. I would even choose to listen to a book based on her reading it, without knowing what the book was about. On the other hand, I cannot say I would seek out any of the other books in the A Whisky Mystery series. Although, if someone put one in front of me, I would still read it to see if there’s some improvement in delivering on the genre of suspense, as well as the mystery.

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