Photojournalist Abi Logan is finally ready to put her hectic career on hold and set down roots in the heart of the Scottish countryside. Studying the business and art of distilling whisky at Abbey Glen and volunteering at the Shepherd’s Rest women’s shelter in her spare time seem a surefire way to find the peace and stability she craves. It’s also the logical way to take her mind off her personal life. Abi’s business partner, Grant MacEwan, is facing a career-threatening disability, and as much as Abi longs to be there for him, he seems to prefer the company of a rival.
But as Abi becomes more involved with Shepherd’s Rest, she discovers that their refuge is elusive. When the shelter is rocked by a murder/suicide, Abi is outraged by the police’s lack of attention to these already marginalized women. Increasingly confident in her own skills as an investigator, Abi steps in to find out what the police will not: who left one young woman dead and another missing. But when more deadly deeds come to light, Abi must race to unravel the connections between the shelter’s benefactors and the women they have pledged to protect—and expose the killer before he strikes again.
Melinda Mullet’s delightful Whisky Business mysteries can be read together or separately. Enjoy responsibly:
SINGLE MALT MURDER | DEATH DISTILLED | DEADLY DRAM | DIED IN THE WOOL
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
It was a picture-perfect day for walking, and Liam trotted along happily at my heels as we made our way up the long drive toward the Larches, the MacEwen family estate and home to my business partner, Grant MacEwen. The sun was shining brightly, a rare and welcome sight for the first week of March in Scotland, and the shaggy conifers that gave the house its name were casting sharp shadows along the path in front of us. Once used to make the barrels that aged the family’s whisky, the trees now simply provided a stately gateway to the aging baronial house.
As we drew nearer, Liam put on a burst of speed and ran ahead to greet our friend Louisa, the Larches’ housekeeper and resident chef. The old food hound had a very clear idea of where his next meal was coming from and he knew it was well worth running for. Louisa stood on the front steps, her long, wavy brown hair caught in a loose bun on the top of her head, a bright yellow apron tied over her jeans and t-shirt. She was talking to a tall, thin Indian gentleman who stood beside her, a large leather bag slung over his shoulder.
As I approached, Louisa smiled and gestured to her companion.
“Abi, I don’t think you’ve met our new doc yet. He’s only bin here a week, poor soul, and already we’ve got him runnin’. Dr. Arya, this is Abigail Logan, our local celebrity journalist.”
Dr. Arya turned and greeted me. His handshake was firm and he regarded me with a frank, penetrating gaze. “It’s a pleasure,” I said. We’d been without a full-time doctor since our last one went to jail nearly a year ago and the village was thrilled to finally have a permanent replacement.
“How’s the patient?” I asked, nodding toward the house. Through the entryway the sound of raised voices drifted down from the upper floor, punctuated by the slamming of a heavy door.
“Healing is a process,” Dr. Arya said charitably. “Mr. MacEwen is still journeying along the path.”
“You mean he’s bein’ a right bugger,” Louisa translated.
Dr. Arya smiled softly. “Feel free to text me if you have any concerns,” he said as he turned to leave. “Otherwise, I’ll check back in another day or two.”
We watched as he climbed into his car and drove off down the drive, leaving a small cloud of dust in his wake.
“Haste ye inside,” Louisa said firmly. “I’m gaspin’ for a coffee.”
I eagerly followed Louisa downstairs into the massive stone-floored kitchen and settled myself at the scrubbed and polished oak table. Louisa flipped the switch on the coffee machine and came to join me with a plate of shortbread rounds topped with raspberry jelly and a large rawhide chew. Liam sat expectantly at attention until he was rewarded, then retired to the hearthrug to gnaw away at his prize.
“So what’s going on with the lord and master?” I asked as soon as we were all settled. I was curious. A Sunday morning house call was unusual, even in a village this small.
Louisa extended the plate of cookies, sighing deeply before answering. “It’s not good, actually. I’m really worried. More complications from the concussion. I knew somethin’ was wrong, but you know himself. He keeps it all inside, as if he thinks it might magically go away. Anyroad, he finally told Dr. Arya that he hasn’t been able to smell or really taste anythin’ since the accident.”
I stopped eating midbite. “What did the doctor say?”
“He told us that it wasn’t unheard of for this to be a side effect of a concussion, and he said it ‘should’ go away over time, but he wasn’t able to say when and he wasn’t able to say for sure that it would fix itself.”
Louisa rose to pour the coffee and I sat transfixed. Losing one’s sense of smell and taste were bad enough for a normal person, but Grant is what is known in our business as a ‘nose.’ At Abbey Glen, the distillery we owned and operated as a team, he was the master blender. The man whose delicate senses crafted and perfected the infinitely nuanced flavor profile that made our craft whisky one of the most sought after in the industry. Losing or even slightly impeding those senses would be professionally devastating. A career-ending disaster.
“How soon before they can tell?” I asked, still trying to wrap my head around the news.
“Doc said he’ll have to be patient.”
Louisa and I rolled our eyes in unison. “Hence the door slamming,” I said. “Is Brenna with him?”
“Aye, the big B’s taking the brunt of it at the moment. And she’s welcome to it.”
I hastily took a sip of coffee, burning the tip of my tongue as I did. My relationship with Grant had been a complex one from the start. Thrust together by the untimely death of my uncle Bennett and my subsequent inheritance of his single malt whisky distillery known locally as the Glen, I’d fought against a fierce visceral attraction to the sandy-haired Scot and his lethal green eyes. I knew that getting involved with my business partner would be a serious mistake. Not only would it threaten my newly found peace and security in this idyllic corner of the world, it would also undermine my credibility in an already misogynist and unwelcoming industry. I’d become nothing more than Grant’s “wee gurl” in the eyes of the other distillers.
Keeping my distance was the logical answer and I was sure I had this nailed, especially when Grant’s old flame Brenna Quinn showed up at the international whisky awards six weeks ago intent on rekindling their former relationship. With Brenna around Grant was off the market, and I’d not be tempted. Problem solved, or at least so I thought, until Grant was attacked, receiving a severe head injury that landed him in the hospital in critical condition.
Faced with the prospect of losing him, I came to the abrupt realization that I cared for him far more than I’d been willing to admit. Pity I hadn’t managed to figure that out before Brenna came along and staked her claim, but timing was never my strong suit.
When Grant was allowed to come home we were all under the impression that his recovery from the concussion would be gradual, but complete. His doctors recommended at least two months of total rest and, much to everyone’s annoyance, Brenna insisted on taking time off from her own family distillery in Wales to see that Grant did as he was told. Six weeks on, here we were, one surly patient, one hovering girlfriend, and me doing my best to rebalance my life on the sidelines.