Death Before Decaf
A Java Jive Mystery, #1
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Date of Publication: November 17, 2015
Number of pages: 289
Perfect for fans of Janet Evanovich and Diane Mott Davidson, Caroline Fardig’s captivating new mystery novel takes readers behind the counter of a seemingly run-of-the-mill coffeehouse... where murder is brewing.
After her music career crashes and burns spectacularly, Juliet Langley is forced to turn to the only other business she knows: food service. Unfortunately, bad luck strikes yet again when her two-timing fiancé robs her blind and runs off with her best waitress. Flushing what’s left of her beloved café down the toilet with her failed engagement, Juliet packs up and moves back to her college stomping grounds in Nashville to manage an old friend’s coffeehouse. At first glance, it seems as though nothing’s changed at Java Jive. What could possibly go wrong? Only that the place is hemorrhaging money, the staff is in open revolt, and Juliet finds one unlucky employee dead in the dumpster out back before her first day is even over.
The corpse just so happens to belong to the cook who’d locked horns with Juliet over the finer points of the health code. Unimpressed with her management style, the other disgruntled employees are only too eager to spill the beans about her fiery temper to the detective on the case. Add to the mix a hunky stranger who’s asking way too many questions, and suddenly Juliet finds herself in some very hot water. If she can’t simmer down and sleuth her way to the real killer, she’s going to get burned.
I was drawn to this book after reading the blurb - Music and Coffee? Set in Nashville? Okay, not something I've seen before, so count me in.
I really felt for Juliet. Losing her own cafe and having to fall back on her best friend Pete, for assistance. Okay, yes, he really did need her to manage his late father's coffeehouse. But there she was, basically right back where she started, and with very little to show for her years of hard work. On her birthday no less. Oh, and she's living what in what amounts to a dorm room again. It doesn't totally excuse some of the crazy schemes that she comes up with (and talks Pete into), but it does speak to her frame of mind. Juliet blames a lot on her red haired temper, and okay, yes, that plays a part too.
One of the things that I really like about this book was the realistic way running and working in food service was shown. It's long hours and a lot of work, especially when you are the boss. None of Juliet's sleuthing dramatically cut into her time at the business, and yet she still had time to sleep at night. I have seen other author's struggle with juggling the time management of the daily life in addition to their detective work. This was skillfully done.
I wasn't sure how I felt about the bit of love triangle going on. Juliet states from the beginning that she has been carrying a hidden torch for Pete, but doesn't want to ruin their friendship. Plus, he is currently in a long term relationship. Juliet manages to hook up with someone, but it feels very much like just a short term hook up. Since this isn't a romance, but a cozy mystery, I feel that it isn't a spoiler to say that there is no HEA, and even a small bit of a cliffhanger concerning her love life at the very end.
This book had a young vibe to it; partially due to being set near 2 college campuses, I'm sure. But also because of the mindset of Juliet and her fresh start. I can see this being a series to help bring a younger audience to the cozy mystery genre. I enjoyed the book and gave it 3 stars, though I hope to see more of the music aspect in the coming books.
Thanks to Netgalley, Alibi and Great Escapes for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Caroline Fardig is the author of Death Before Decaf and the Lizzie Hart series. She worked as a schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Fardig still lives in that same town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.
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