Death by a Thousand Sips (Witches’s Brew Mysteries: Book 2) by Gretchen Rue

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Date of publication: September 5th, 2023

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Mystery, Paranormal, Contemporary, Cats, Tea, Witches

Series: Witches Brew Mystery

Steeped to Death—Book 1

Death by a Thousand Sips—Book 2

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Phoebe Winchester is back on the case in Raven Creek when a body is discovered at an estate sale in Gretchen Rue’s second book in the Witches’ Brew mystery series, perfect for fans of Laura Childs and Cleo Coyle.

Ever since she moved to Raven Creek, Washington, Phoebe Winchester knew she would have to grow accustomed to having a lot on her plate. She’s beginning to make the Victorian manor she inherited from her dear and adventurous Aunt Eudora feel more like home, successfully running the bookstore and tea shop, The Earl’s Study, and learning to harness her recently discovered magical powers. But when she discovers a dead body at an estate sale—even Phoebe wonders if this is simply too much.

Rumors of Phoebe’s involvement force her to take action; she needs to find the killer and clear her own name, once again. She enlists Rich Lofting, the handsome private detective and her childhood friend, in her investigation, all while she sorts out her unresolved feelings for him. Is there something more sinister lurking in the shadows of this small tight-knit town? And does Phoebe really want to find out?

With a dash of magic, a pinch of sleuthing skills, and a spoonful of friendly assistance, Phoebe needs to uncover the killer to keep Raven Creek safe once again. But if she doesn’t—will she find herself in even more hot water?

First Line:

“Dead people have the best books.” I looked down at the newspaper that had been placed in front of me, then up at the woman who put it there.

Death by a Thousand Sips by Gretchen Rue

A half year since Phoebe moved to the scenic town of Raven’s Creek to take over running her late aunt’s bookstore and tea shop. Phoebe always looks for new stock and attends an estate sale in a neighboring town. That’s where she finds the body of the person in charge of the sale and auction. Phoebe must clear her name with rumors of her involvement going around town. But, the deeper she digs, the more stranger this case gets. Enlisting the help of her PI friend, Rich, Phoebe hopes to find answers. But will the answers solve the mystery, or will they deepen it?

I am a sucker for cozy mysteries that feature animals, mainly cats, on the cover. I either shelve them as “Want to Read” on Goodreads or buy them outright. So, it wasn’t even a thought when I saw Death by a Thousand Sips on Crooked Lane Books NetGalley page as a Read Now. I am glad I downloaded this book because it was a great read.

Death by a Thousand Sips is the second book in the Witches’ Brew Mystery series. I was on the fence with this book. This book can easily be read as a stand-alone book. But there are enough references to book one that I recommend reading first. So, I leave it up to the reader to make their choice.

Death by a Thousand Sips’ plotline alternates between medium and fast-paced. I liked that the author did that. The plotline slowed down during the major parts of the book (mainly at the end and several critical points during the book) but was fast during the rest of the book.

The plotline of Death by a Thousand Sips centers around Phoebe, the murder of Madeline Morrow, and Phoebe’s investigation into it. This well-written storyline kept me on my toes while reading the book. I liked seeing how Phoebe’s investigation uncovered clues to who was behind Madeline’s killing. But I also loved seeing how her investigation uncovered a bigger mystery, and I also liked seeing how it affected her personal life. It made for a great read.

Several minor storylines centered around Phoebe, Bob the cat, the shop, and Phoebe’s magic. While some of these storylines made no sense to me at the beginning of the book, and I wondered where they were going, I was happy with how they were either absorbed into the main storyline or remained open-ended. The one storyline I am very interested in (and I can’t wait to see what it will be like in book three) is the addition of the cat cafe to the tea/book store.

I liked Phoebe and had an almost instant connection with her. She was a devoted cat mom to Bob (which I can relate to), and she was slowly learning about her magical powers. I also want to add that she was stubborn. Oh man, she was stubborn. She refused to let go of Madeline’s murder. I do think that she got more leads than the police, to be honest.

The mystery angle of Death by a Thousand Sips was well written. The author had so many plot twists and turns that I was sometimes turned around while reading. There were layers to the mystery angle. I figured out one layer of the mystery (who was behind Madeline’s murder), but I wasn’t prepared for what the other layers revealed. The motive was a big twist, which wasn’t what I thought.

The magic angle was barely there. I understand Phoebe is learning about her powers, but I would have loved to see more of her using them. There was a lot of talk about her aunt’s magic powers and how she infused her tea mixtures. There was one scene where Phoebe used her magic power (stopping time) and another where she successfully used a recipe from her aunt and infused it with magical powers.

There was a slight romance angle, but it confused me. The author is setting Phoebe up for a love triangle (between Rich and Leo). But, later in the book, Phoebe seems enamored with Rich. So, it’s all up in the air.

The end of Death by a Thousand Sips was interesting. I loved how the author solved Madeline’s murder and what Phoebe’s investigation stirred up. There was also an exciting twist to the cat cafe, which surprised me. Overall, I can’t wait to read book three.

I recommend Death by a Thousand Sips to anyone over 16. There is mild violence, mild language, and no sexual situations.

Many thanks to Crooked Lane Books, NetGalley, and Gretchen Rue for allowing me to read and review Death by a Thousand Sips. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

If you enjoyed reading this review of Death by a Thousand Sips, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Other books by Gretchen Rue:

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