Strange Brew (Callahan Garrity Series #6)

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The winds of change are blowing, bringing gentrification to Callahan Garrity's funky Atlanta neighborhood. Though it probably won't harm her House Mouse housecleaning service, not everyone welcomes the rebirth. And when the body of a murdered microbrewer is discovered in the aftermath of a furious Halloween gale, suspicion falls on the aging "flower child" shopkeeper whom the victim put out of business.

A former cop, Callahan isn't as quick to condemn a colorful local character ...

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Strange Brew (Callahan Garrity Series #6)

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The winds of change are blowing, bringing gentrification to Callahan Garrity's funky Atlanta neighborhood. Though it probably won't harm her House Mouse housecleaning service, not everyone welcomes the rebirth. And when the body of a murdered microbrewer is discovered in the aftermath of a furious Halloween gale, suspicion falls on the aging "flower child" shopkeeper whom the victim put out of business.

A former cop, Callahan isn't as quick to condemn a colorful local character as some law officers still on the force. But her investigative zeal is stirring up secrets that are forcing her to reassess old friendships and a one-time love — and is brewing up more lethal trouble than Callahan and her "mice" can safely swallow.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Housecleaner/sleuth Callahan Garrity, who is as tough on crime as she is on grime, returns in Strange Brew to clean up a case involving hippies and yuppies in a changing Atlanta neighborhood at Halloween. Trocheck again displays plenty of wit and insight, giving more than a lick and a promise to an intriguing story of clashing social values.

—Nancy Pate

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061091735
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/2005
  • Series: Callahan Garrity Series, #6
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 225,887
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Kay Andrews

Kathy Hogan Trocheck is the author of ten critically acclaimed mysteries, including the Callahan Garrity mystery series. A former reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, she is also the author of Little Bitty Lies and the Edgar®- and Macavity-nominated Savannah Blues, under the name Mary Kay Andrews.


In In 2003, a writer named Mary Kay Andrews burst on the book scene with an entertaining, lighthearted confection entitled Savannah Blues. Hailed as a promising debut, the book received positive reviews; but not everyone realized it was actually the work of journalist-turned-novelist Kathy Hogan Trocheck, author of a bestselling mystery series begun in 1990 and featuring ex-cop-turned P.I. Callahan Garrity.

Trocheck explained in an interview with Reading Group the reason for adopting a pseudonym (derived, by the way, from combining the names of her two children): "Because Blues is so different from my Callahan books, I wanted a chance to try for a whole new group of readers, people who like women's fiction, Southern fiction, and still, mysteries. That Mary Kay is a pseudonym for Kathy Hogan Trocheck is not a secret from my fans."

Savannah Blues introduced readers to Eloise "Weezie" Foley, whose marriage to the wealthy Talmadge Evans III suffers a fatal blow when he announces he is in love with someone else. When Talmadge's mistress moves into his Savannah mansion, it's the backyard carriage house for Weezie, who soon begins to devise a plan to get revenge on her cheating hubby. Blues may have been a marked departure from Trocheck's grittier early work, but it was a rousing success on all fronts. Publishers Weekly hailed it as "delightfully breezy, richly atmospheric" and Kirkus reviews called it "pure fun."

Soon, Mary Kay Andrews had assumed a life of her own. A year later, she published Little Bitty Lies, followed in 2005 by the joyfully wacky New York Times bestseller Hissy Fit. Having revisited the world of her irresistible protagonist Weezie Foley twice more in Savannah Breeze and Blue Christmas, Andrews continues to craft her winning brand of witty, Southern-fried fiction -- much to the delight of her many fans.

Good To Know

When Andrews was a journalist at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, she covered the famous "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" murder case.

As Kathy Hogan Trocheck, Andrews's mysteries have been nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, Agatha, and Macavity Awards.

When she isn't writing, Mary Kay Andrews lectures and teaches at writing workshops.

A few fun outtakes from our interview with Andrews:

"When I finish writing a book, I always celebrate with my favorite junk foods: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Wink grapefruit soda."

"I have no sense of direction and am incapable of reading a map."

"I'm a charter member of the Salty Dog chapter of the Andy Griffith Show Re-run Watchers club."

"I love afternoon naps, junking, reading, cooking with my husband, anything with avocados, English Setters, old movies, anything blue and white. I hate shopping for clothes, cigarette smoke, math, magic, mimes, scary movies, and Star Trek re-runs."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Kathy Hogan Trocheck (real name)
    2. Hometown:
      Atlanta, Georgia
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 27, 1954
    2. Place of Birth:
      Tampa, Florida
    1. Education:
      B.A. in newspaper journalism, University of Georgia, 1976
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

All the Sunday afternoons I can remember have that same grainy, black-and-white quality as those old photographs in a familyscrapbook.

Edna and I are at home. She's cooking, a chicken probably, or a roast, and I'm doing the things I always do on Sundays, loungingaround the house, maybe working in the yard, reading the paper, or watching an old movie on television.

We sit on the porch, my mother and I, wave at the neighbors as they drive by, cuss out the politicians, or the Atlanta Braves, or theweather, or each other. It don't mean a thing.

Nothing happens, nothing changes. It's a lie we tell each other, a charm to keep us safe, like the tiny gold St. Christopher's medalEdna wears on a fine gold chain around her neck.

My daddy gave Edna the medal when he got sick and knew he would die. The Catholic Church took away Christopher's saintfranchise at about the same time we Garritys stopped going to Mass. Edna doesn't really believe in saints, but she believes if sheacts like she believes, something good could happen.

I believed it too, until the Sunday late last summer when my ideas about goodness and evil were shaken like one of those snowglobes we put on the mantel every Christmas.

It was one of those unremarkable Sundays. Not unbearably hot, because we'd had an early afternoon shower. The windows wereopen, and I could hear the soft swish of a lawn sprinkler nearby. I was inside the house, watching an old gangster movie. I thinkGeorge Raft was in it. Edna had put a chicken in the pressure cooker, and I was supposed to be listening for the steam to besputtering good so I could turn down the heat. She was outsideon the porch, probably dozing over the Sunday paper.

All of a sudden she let out a howl like a scalded dog. I went running out just in time to see her out in the yard, beating this poorold drunk with a dripping-wet floor mop.

She chased him down Oakdale, halfway to DeKalb Avenue, his pants still at half-mast around his knees, her pink terrycloth houseshoes slapping against her bare feet, and all the while she was right behind him, jabbing the wet mop at him like a bayonet.

Her heart condition has slowed her down some in the past year. Otherwise, I believe Edna would have run that old wino to groundand pummeled him to death with that mop. As it was, she stopped chasing him only because I went after her and dragged her homeby the arm.

"For God's sake," I told her, standing there on the sidewalk, panting for breath, hoping my own heart wouldn't give out, "that guycould have had a gun or a knife. What if he'd turned on you? What would you have done?"

"Son-of-a-bitch bums," she yelled, brandishing the mop in the direction he'd run off in. "The son of a bitch was using my yard asan outhouse. I saw him, Jules. He came right up to the edge of the porch and took a crap on my gardenia bush!"

I was pulling her along the sidewalk toward the house, trying to get her to come along quietly. But she had an audience now.Neighbors had heard her screams, and now dogs were barking and people were standing at the edge of the street or on their ownporches to see what was going on.

Old Mr. Byerly across the street met us by the driveway. Homer, his Boston terrier, was barking and snarling and running incircles around Mr. Byerly's feet.

"I seen him, Callahan," Mr. Byerly said, working his toothless gums in agitation. "It's that same damned wino I caught sleeping inmy car last week. Stank up the Buick so bad I had to use a whole bottle of Pine Sol on it. I think he's been sneaking around myback porch too, stealing Homer's food. Homer ain't never eat a whole box of Gainesburgers in one week. Have you, buddy?"

Homer lifted a black-and-white leg and directed a good-natured stream of urine at Mr. Byerly's work shoe.

"It's awful," Edna said. "Awful. Decent folk shouldn't have to put up with this. And I intend to put a stop to it." But her chest washeaving so hard, she couldn't say more. The chase had done her in.

I slipped my arm around her shoulder. "Come on, Ma," I said. "Let's go on inside and check on your chicken. You'll have a strokestanding around outside in this heat."

She pushed my arm away. "My gardenia," she said. "I've got to hose off that gardenia."

"I'll do it," I promised, steering her toward the porch.

"Soap and water," she said, pausing to rest after climbing the first step. "Otherwise, it'll be burned. Damned bum. I've beennursing that gardenia for four years. Longest I've ever been able to keep one going. Everybody says Atlanta's too cold forold-fashioned gardenias."

She eased down into her rocking chair, and I hustled into the house to turn off the pressure cooker, which was rattling and hissingand throwing off great clouds of steam inside the kitchen.

"The chicken's fine," I told her when I got back outside. She just nodded and pointed at the hose.

I squirted bright green liquid dish detergent all over the shrubs and breathed through my mouth and averted my eyes as I directedthe spray at the neatly clipped azaleas, camellias, and sasanquas Edna had planted near the underpinnings of our little wood-framebungalow. The shrubs made a frothy green hedge across the front of the house, and Edna always planted great swaths of pink andwhite impatiens in their shade so that it looked like a lady's lacy underpants peeking out from under her skirts. Never red, neverorange.

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Table of Contents

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 7 of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 8, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Best Mystery of 2013!

    This was an awesome mystery (Callahan Garrity Mystery series) with lots of colorful and quirky characters – keeps you guessing all the way through the book. Voted for this book as the best mystery for 2013 Good Reads awards. If you love Mary Kay Andrews (which I do and have read all her books), try her older books (under the name of Kathy Hogan Trocheck) are now available as e-books.
    This can be a standalone; however, you will want to read the other books in the the Callahan Garrity Mystery series as the characters are a riot (I have only read a few and trying to get to the others) on my to read list.

    I loved the Atlanta references (as lived there most of my life) and Little Five Points (setting) is a trendy, funky cool area and fitting for this book.

    This is a great book to read now in the Fall Season as the setting was Halloween with a mystery Callahan Garrity seeks to solve. She was a former Atlanta cop and now owns a house cleaning business (House Mouse) with her mother and other quirky funny characters. She takes on private detective jobs and this one is a big one which the cops cannot solve. Lots of twists and turns with some shocks along the way.

    A body turns up on Halloween night (murder of a microbrewer) and Wuuvy (a hippie flower child who owns a shop in L5P is somehow connected. (will not spoil the rest) as too good! In the meantime, her mother (Edna) was robbed and she has formed a neighborhood group. (too funny as worked for a Coors Distributor in Atlanta years ago, as Marketing Director so could relate).

    As the mystery develops more bodies are dying and takes them to a small South Georgia town where they meet some characters from the past who may know the real truth about the history of these culprits. Callahan never gives up and continues to uncover more of the puzzle

    This book was full of Mary Kay’s humor and sass---full of mystery and thrills! I look forward to reading more of the Callahan Garrity Mysteries. Highly recommend!

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