07 March 2024

Ale You Need is Love

mug of beer

Confession time.

I’m not a beer drinker. Never have been. In my early days of enjoying spiked beverages, I reached for wine coolers (shoutout to my two college friends, Bartles and James). Then Scotch whiskey, both single malt and blends, took over as my libation of choice. These days, I favor crisp Italian white wines.

Which is a long way of saying, I was in store for some fun new-to-me research to help craft my short story of suspense, “Not Yo’ Mama’s IPA” in Murder, Neat, the SleuthSayers Anthology. I took Happy Hour fieldtrips to a few of Richmond, Virginia’s finest brew pubs. Tasted flights of beers. Studied the origins of IPAs, as well as the proper way to pour and serve. Did you know India Pale Ales (a.k.a. IPAs) have their own dedicated glassware? I didn’t when I started plotting my story idea.

Well, then if not beer, what inspired my story, you might wonder?  An insurance statement delivered by snail mail not so long ago. Sexy? Maybe not, but I found it pretty compelling.

Kristin Kisska
Kristin Kisska ©
Lindsey Pantele Photgraphy

As the beneficiary of my husband’s life insurance, I received what would be the final premium invoice for his term policy. That auspicious morning, I’d ripped open the envelope, looked up from the paystub to him, and joked that for one final year, he’d be worth more dead than alive—crime authors can be sensitive and thoughtful that way. It’s a good thing my husband shares my humor!

But my muse took my dark quip, noodled it for a while, and ultimately ran with it. What would it take for someone to cash in on a loved one’s expiring policy? How deep and dark would an injustice need be to give them motive?

Let me introduce you to Lynn and Jack, the unlucky-in-love, beer-drinking couple at the heart of my short story of suspense, “Not Yo’ Mama’s IPA”. Lynn finds out that ignorance can indeed be bliss…until the truth hits you like a sledgehammer.

Happy reading!

For the true crime enthusiast with an interest in insurance as motive for murder, I recommend reading the creative nonfiction, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, which dramatizes the chilling story of serial killer on the loose in Chicago at the turn of the twentieth century. The murderer, H.H. Holmes, mastered the art of convincing his many victims to take out insurance policies with him as the beneficiary. Spoiler alert ~ his prey had a very short life expectancy after signing on the dotted line.

Insurance fraud can be deadly.

At the end of the day, you may or may not find me savoring a fine IPA at happy hour. But one thing I’ll forever be preaching from my soapbox is, don’t let your life insurance policy be used as a weapon against you.

Note ~ No real-life husbands were harmed in the plotting of this short story. On the contrary, mine enjoyed being my plus one as I conducted my IPA and brewery research. I’m happy to report that we both survived the expiration of his insurance policy.

Cheers, y’all!

KRISTIN KISSKA used to be a finance geek, complete with MBA and Wall Street pedigree, but now she is a self-proclaimed #SuspenseGirl. Kristin has contributed short suspense stories to a dozen anthologies, including Malice Domestic’s Agatha Award-winning anthology, Mystery Most Edible.  Her debut novel, The Hint of Light, is an Agatha Award finalist for Best First Mystery Novel. Kristin is a member of International Thriller Writers, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and Sisters in Crime-Central Virginia. Kristin lives in Richmond, Virginia with her family and their moody tabby cat, Boom. She loves hearing from friends, readers, and book clubs at www.KristinKisska.com


  1. Love your comment: "No real-life husbands were harmed..." - grin. We share a similar pedigree, Kristen, which you will see when you read my story The Mob, The Model, and the College Reunion, in the same anthology! And I will look forward to reading yours now, as the books have just arrived! Good post.

  2. Melodie, Thanks for the heads up! Can't wait to read your story as well. Cheers!

  3. Loved your story, Kristin. I had a brief career selling whole life insurance (not the expiring kind) in 1980. What a nightmare! The only policy I sold that's still in force is the one I sold to my husband, but forty years later, he's actually worth more alive. In those days, only oil-rich sheikhs bought million-dollar policies. Before cell phones and billionaires, before you kids were born...

  4. Elizabeth, Thanks for reading my story. Your experience selling life insurance sounds like a rough patch. Glad you were able to move on & your hubs is going strong! Cheers!

  5. Great story, Kristin. Life insurance scams have been around for... well, ever since there was life insurance. It's amazing what people will do when they're in love...

    1. Eve, glad you enjoyed it! And yes, even insurance can be fertile ground for crime. ;)

  6. Your story was one of my favorites in the collection, Kristin. Your closing sentence really sealed the deal.
    I never sold life insurance, but I did sell encyclopedias one summer. Horrible job, and I think I quit after about a month.

    1. Steve, thanks for the shoutout. I'd bet your encyclopedia sales experience could inspire some dark crime fiction stories, for sure!

  7. Kristin, my copy of the book arrived an hour ago and I turned to your story first thing. Whew. Your husband is vewwy, vewwy brave.

    Actually, as Jack was revealed, the audience pretty much wants to kill him too. Nice job, Kristin.

    1. Ha! Snorts coffee! It takes a special guy to be married to a crime fiction enthusiast. I routinely remind him not to check (or worry) about my Google search history.


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