On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle

(Coffeehouse Mystery, #1)

Introducing a delightful new series featuring Clare Cosi, manager of the historic Village Blend coffeehouse...

Clare arrives at work to discover the assistant manager dead in the back of the store, coffee grounds strewn everywhere. Two detectives investigate. But when they find no sign of forced entry or foul play, they deem it an accident. Still, Clare is not convinced. And after the police leave, Clare can't help wondering...If this was an act of murder, is she in danger?

"Okay, I'm sorry, but decaf drinkers annoy me."

It's fun in a "cozy mystery" sort of way to read these books dedicated to drinks, foods, or hobbies. I'm a latte girl myself and thought a fun coffee shop series sounded delish enough to try. I can already tell by this first book that I'll be continuing with this long-running series for awhile.

Some mysteries seem focused on themes without teaching the reader much about the subject, but that's certainly not the case here. It almost was too textbookish for the first half, as the author paused from the story as the main character mentally filled in techniques, different equipment, and coffee bean jargon for the discerning learner. It's clear she has passionate opinions about the right coffee techniques and how important it is to pay attention to pretty much everything when it comes to making a stellar cup of java.

I liked the tips - really - but it was a little too much for awhile. Finally that dies down some to let the story shine over the coffee, only keeping quips to show the character's personality and tendency to overdo coffee lore to anyone who dares ask her a question or make a compliment.

Example writing of this -

"(The thing to remember when adding sugar is to use white granulated- it disolves much faster and smoother than cubes or brown sugar.)

Some of my customers even add a bit of frothed milk, but this version of espresso "stained" with a bit of milk is technically called a caffe macchiato (machia being Italian for stain, spot, or speckle."

The main lure - besides that fragrant smell of coffee described so well it makes me crave a cup myself - is the small and intimate cozy scene of the well-known coffee shop, staffed by quirky characters who come across as convincingly but enjoyably flawed and eccentric.

It came alive and flourished under the writer's technique. Cleo Coyle may write matter-of-factly when it comes to coffee bean know-how, but she puts humor convincingly in her sentences when she's whipping up comedic scenes, tension, or amateur snooping.

I'm not sure how the character can convincingly keep running into murder victims to where it makes sense and doesn't come across as too outlandish...but for this introduction book, it fit. The murder connection was realistic enough to work (for most of the book they questioned whether it was a murder at all!), and there's plenty of incentive for her to do some investigating.

The beginning is a little dry but the middle sublime with a darker ending wrap-up on the last page. Recommended for cozy fans or coffee slurpers.

The end of the book has a generous amount of recipes, food and coffee-related.

   Book Quotes:

“Coffee makes a sad man cheerful, a languorous man active, a cold man warm, a warm man glowing. It awakens mental powers thought to be dead, and when left in a sick room, it fills the room with a fragrance…. The very smell of coffee terrorizes death.”

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