A Java Jive Mystery, #2
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Date of Publication: April 19, 2016
Number of pages: 289
Cover Artist: Niloufer Wadia
Full of humor and suspense, the bestselling Java Jive series heats up as the irrepressible heroine of Death Before Decaf faces off against Nashville’s upper crust to solve a shocking murder.
Former musician Juliet Langley has barely had a day off since taking over management of the coffeehouse owned by her best friend, Pete Bennett. But there’s always more to be done—such as prepping for the annual Holiday 5K Race organized by Pete’s snobby socialite girlfriend, Cecilia Hollingsworth. This year, Java Jive has a booth right at the finish line, and since Juliet and Cecilia don’t always see eye to eye, everything has to be perfect. Nothing can go wrong. Nothing... like Juliet stumbling over Cecilia’s dead body on the morning of the race.
When Pete is arrested for Cecilia’s murder, Juliet sets out to clear his name. She’ll do whatever it takes—even if it means standing up to the police, her ex-boyfriend, and the grande dames of Nashville. But there isn’t enough espresso in the world for the greatest challenge in her path: infiltrating Nashville’s high society to uncover the hidden hotbed of scandal without running afoul of the law herself. With her last dime staked on Pete’s bail bond and her staff growing jittery, the last thing Juliet needs is for her trademark temper to land her behind bars. As time drips away, Juliet needs to crack this case before the killer comes back for another shot.
This is the second book in the Java Jive Mystery series. It's set in Nashville, Tennessee just off campus of two universities. As most baristas and food service workers are college students, and Juliet is recently starting over, after losing everything to a deceitful fiance, there was a very youthful feel to the first book. That youthful exuberance was tempered this time, by the inclusion of the Nashville old-money Southern gentry.
Juliet and Pete have been best friends since college, and now that she is managing his father's coffee house, they added a new dimension to their friendship. There is a hint of sparks and interest between Pete and Juliet, though neither has acted on those feelings. Pete is dating Cecilia, another college classmate and member of the Nashville old money elite. Cecilia doesn't like Juliet, and the feeling is entirely mutual. Juliet has lobbied for Pete to dump Cecilia, since book one. On the night before a big 5k charity event, being run by Cecilia, Juliet appears to have talked Pete into breaking up with her when he goes to set up the coffeehouse's tent the night before the race. Imagine her shock and dismay when she finds Cecilia stabbed to death on the floor of that same tent.
There were some recurring characters from book one, including Detective Cromwell, Carl & Savannah, Ryder Hamilton, Pete's Grandmother Gertie, Juliet's flaming alter-ego the Redheaded She-Devil, and the staff at Java Jive and a couple of Juliet's neighbors.
I think that for all Juliet's faults she is a big ole softy. When the story starts, she is semi-dating Cecilia's younger brother Stan. He's a bit of a wimp, and though Juliet doesn't want to date him, she can't help but see how others treat him and she doesn't want to be that person. Pete and Ryder kept pushing Juliet to not see Stan, but stubborn Juliet listened to her gut and refused to stop being friends with him. I liked that she stood her ground about what she believed in. I also liked that she could learn from previous mistakes and didn't keep making the exact same ones. Of course, she did make new ones. LOL
I was surprised at who the bad guy turned out to be. I honestly didn't see it coming. Of course, once the clues were laid out all Scoobie Doo like, it made total sense. But up till the big reveal I had the wrong guess. I like when I can be honestly stumped by an author. There is a bit of romance to be had between Ryder and Juliet, though she still has the feelings for Pete. I'm on the fence about the love triangle aspects, simply because I don't like them, though I know others do. I personally think we will come to find out that they are a left over crush that she just hasn't let go of. But probably not for a couple of books down the line.
Overall I thought this was a better book than the first one, with Juliet really showing some growth as a character. The plot was tight, the pacing nicely done, and stumping me with the whodunit a sweet touch. I gave this book 4 stars.
Thanks to Netgalley and Alibi for the opportunity to read and review this book.