Go on a mystery lover's pub crawl with Ellie Alexander, author of Death on Tap, and make sure to sign in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of the first Sloan Krause Mystery!
I was first introduced to the mystery genre by my grandmother, who had stacks upon stacks of dusty paperbacks crowding every square inch of her built-in cabinets in the dining room. She didn’t display fancy China or polished silverware in her mid-century modern arched dining room with brown shag carpet and a dimly-lit brass chandelier. Nope. The heart of her family table housed homemade pies and books from every corner of the world. Any visit to my grandmother’s involved returning home with root beer bottle candies and a binge-worthy pile of mysteries.
Thanks to my grandmother, I traveled to distant places, met eclectic characters, puzzled through clues, and sifted through red herrings in the tattered pages of her mystery collection. Now, as a writer, I often reflect on my early reading years and the sleuths who took me along on their adventures. These characters are like old friends. There’s so much more I want to know about them, and what better way to connect than over a cold, frothy pint?
My new book, Death On Tap, features a female brewmistress, Sloan Krause, who can hang with the big guys and has a nose for hops and murder. She’s taking the craft beer world by storm, pushing the envelope with inventive flavor combinations and daring brewing techniques. Sloan has carved out her piece of Beervaria in the German-inspired village of Leavenworth, Washington. She’s smart with a sophisticated palate and a unique ability to carefully watch and observe those around her.
Without having devoured my grandmother’s extensive paperbacks, Sloan might not exist. As an homage to my favorite sleuths, I want to take you on a tasting tour. Grab your stein, and let’s hit the pub.
Stop One: St. Mary Mead
No mystery lover’s pub crawl would be complete without a visit to St. Mary Mead, the famed village of Miss Marple. We’ll travel along cobblestone streets until we reach the Blue Boar Pub, where we’ll cozy up in front of a crackling fireplace with an English classic: a pint of bitter. Miss Marple will sip her pint with her ever-watchful eye. She’ll knit as we chat, subtly nodding to the vicar, who has had one too many and is flirting with a pretty young thing who is most definitely not his wife. Instead of making a scene, Miss Marple will raise her golden glass of British pale ale and suggest that once we’ve finished our drinks we take a turn through the Vicarage Gardens.
Stop Two: Gaborone
Africa is calling. We’ll touch down in Botswana and be greeted with a warm hug by Mma Ramotswe. From witch doctors to South African diamond mines, Mma Ramotswe will give us an insider’s glimpse into the changing culture of her homeland. Speaking of home, she’ll invite us into her kitchen and bake her signature dish: chicken and pumpkin. A meal this rich in tradition requires a worthy beer. We’ll bring a barrel-aged pumpkin ale to compliment dinner. Aged in bourbon, this sweet and spicy ale with touches of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice should blend beautifully with Mma Ramotswe’s masterpiece and allow the conversation to flow freely—especially when it comes to Mma’s ability to stay centered and calm in the midst of chaos.
Stop Three: The Valley of the Kings
Dust off your floppy sun hat, as our next stop takes us to an Egyptian dig site where we’ll sip an ice-cold Stella Artois with Amelia Peabody on a baking summer’s afternoon. Amelia is a brilliant scholar and well-versed in ancient artifacts. The delicate, light beer will offer a refresher from the relentless desert sun while Amelia guides us through underground tombs and gives us an exclusive peek into her latest discoveries. She won’t be phased by the spooked workers or rumors of a mysterious illness spreading through the crew. We’ll keep one hand tightly wrapped around our luscious Belgian pilsner as she leads us deep underground.
Stop Four: Edinburgh
Things will take a slightly darker and drearier turn when we head to Scotland to meet up with Detective John Rebus. The rain and wind lash Edinburgh’s sidewalks. News around town is that two young girls have been brutally murdered, and the man on the case is Rebus. No light beer will suffice for this stop on our pub crawl. We find Rebus already a few drinks in and order a round of Scottish Imperial Ale. He laments about his tumultuous past as we knock back the rich, dark beer with hints of smoke and a deep, malty finish. Keeping up with Rebus is a challenge, but we’re up to the task.
Stop Five: Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Break out your boots, our last stop will take us to Texas to meet Anna Pigeon. Anna’s a park ranger who knows her way around the mountains. We’ll have to stay alert for vultures circling the trails and keep an eye out for mountain lions as Anna takes us on a trek through the backcountry. The hike will be worth it when we hit the local watering hole for an afternoon American Wild Ale. This fruity raspberry ale will quench our thirst and leave us wanting more. As will our conversation with Anna. She’s a treasure-trove of information about the national park and is convinced that predators, other than the native wildlife, are on the prowl.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our pub crawl. Let’s raise a glass to some of mystery’s most marvelous. Prost!
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Death on Tap Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry. To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at https://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2017/10/a-mystery-lovers-pub-crawl-touring-the-world-with-my-favorite-sleuths-in-search-of-the-perfect-pint-comment-sweepstakes beginning at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) October 2, 2017. Sweepstakes ends 3:59 p.m. ET October 10, 2017. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.
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Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she's not coated in flour, you'll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of “research.” Ellie is the author of the Bakeshop Mysteries, including Another One Bites the Crust. Find her on Facebook to learn more!