Murder Served Neat by Michelle Hillen Klump

Title: Murder Served Neat (A Cocktails and Catering Mystery #2)

Author: Michelle Hillen Klump

Published on: 21 February 2023

Genre: Cozy Mystery

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

Murder Served Neat is the second book in Michelle Hillen Klump’s Cocktails and Catering Mystery series.

Reporter-turned-mixologist Samantha Warren was involved in a murder investigation just a month ago. She came face-to-face with a killer and there are scars to prove how close she came to becoming the next victim.

She’s mixing up traditional cocktails at the German Texan Lodge’s Fourth of July Celebrations. Though things look well and nice on the surface, there’s tension. Lodge loyalties are divided over a proposal to build a private country-club-style tennis center on the lodge grounds. Samantha’s mum’s best friend Patty is opposed to the plan while Angela Lawson is supporting it. This results in a fight between the two ladies – witnessed by many attending the event.

Later in the day, someone finds a body in the construction site. Samantha doesn’t want to be caught up in another crime-drama. As she’s leaving the grounds, she sees the local police escort someone in their vehicle – it’s Patty. Rumor is, Angela was found dead in the construction site and as per witness statements, she was last seen fighting with Patty.

Lillian, Samantha’s mother, is quite sure her friend is innocent. She asks Samantha to help her out. Samantha doesn’t want to be caught up in another murder investigation. But then, it’s her mum’s best friend. How could she refuse?

I have been looking forward to reading the second installment ever since I read A Dash of Death. Murder Served Neat is a fantabulous addition to the series. Completely engrossing and entertaining. Don’t get me started on all the delicious drink and food combos that Samantha and her friend Beth serve to their clients!!! For those who love to try out new dishes, there’s a list of recipes at the end of the story.

The story begins with Samantha serving cocktails at the Fourth of July events hosted by German Texan Lodge. The city has a rich German heritage, and the lodge is the proof of it. Although Germans remained under the radar after WWI, they made significant changes to the Lodge soon after – as a way to preserve their heritage.

Many witness a fight between Patty and Angela. A couple of hours later, Angela is found dead. Patty is the main suspect. The police do not find concrete evidence against Patty, so they let her go. But Samantha’s mum is sure this is just a temporary arrangement, and they will be back with more evidence against Patty.

As Samantha starts to dig deeper in Angela’s life, she learns about the fight she had with her son hours before her death. She also learns about the goings-on at the Lodge – there’s a lot of trouble brewing here. Could Angela’s daughter-in-law or son be the perp? Or is it someone from the Lodge?

This is a Michelle Hillen Klump novel, so it goes without saying that the storytelling is simple mind-blowing and exceptionally brilliant. We also have side stories of recurring characters to keep us entertained – a romance angle to be exact. I find love triangles fascinating. In this case, Samantha is going steady with David (they have just started dating) – and there appears someone from her past. Though things end on a good note here, I wonder if Samantha is ready to give the other person a chance…

The mystery behind the murder kept me guessing till the end. Samantha might be an amateur sleuth but she’s a trained reporter, so sleuthing is in her blood. How far does this help her in solving the case – well, once again she comes face-to-face with the killer. Do I need to say more?

If you are looking for an engrossing and entertaining cozy mystery with a dash of bitters, you might want to give Murder Served Neat by Michelle Hillen Klump a try. This book comes highly recommended from me so go on, chop chop, grab your copy today!

I received an ARC from Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.

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