Death Before Decaf by Caroline Fardig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Juliet Langley is turning 30, back in Nashville after having everything but the kitchen sink stolen from her by her cheating fiance. Her best friend, Pete, has hired her to manage the coffee shop he inherited from his father. She and Pete both worked there in college, so she already knows some of the staff, and before her fiance robbed her blind, she had owned a very successful cafe.
Unfortunately, none of the staff are happy she's coming in to overhaul the failing business, and she gets into an argument with the head cook, whom she finds murdered later that night. Things go downhill from there. Soon Juliet finds herself at the top of the suspect list, semi-dating a film studies professor who isn't what he seems, chasing down crazy people in an attempt to find the real killer, and learning she may not have given the deceased cook enough credit.
This has been advertised as perfect for fans of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, and I think that's fairly accurate, although Juliet is far more competent than Stephanie has ever dreamt of being. Both do some pretty stupid stunts in order to chase down leads, but Jules is smarter overall.
As for the love triangle, I'm hoping it won't last beyond this first book. Janet Evanovich sort of wrote herself into a corner with no good way out, but so far Caroline Fardig hasn't made the same mistake, as the final scene of the book indicates. I do, however, want to see more of Ryder, and I'm really hoping he finds someone great in the next book.
The book starts at a relaxed pace, setting up the characters and their history, and then it accelerates until it's fairly racing. The funeral scene is snort-out-loud funny--reminiscent of a Lula/Grandma Mazur "incident."
For readers' advisors: story doorway is primary, character secondary. A fair amount of swearing, right from the get-go, which is why I didn't label it as "cozy mystery," since most cozies have cleaner language. The swearing was on the milder side, as swearing goes, but still, not everyone's cup of tea, so it's something to take into consideration when suggesting to readers. A bit of sex but not described.
I received a free ebook copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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