Barista Lana Lewis's sleuthing may land her in a latte trouble as Tara Lush launches her new Coffee Shop mysteries.
When Lana Lewis' best -- and most difficult -- employee abruptly quits and goes to work for the competition just days before the Sunshine State Barista Championship, her café's chances of winning the contest are creamed. In front of a gossipy crowd in the small Florida town of Devil's Beach, Lana's normally calm demeanor heats to a boil when she runs into the arrogant java slinger. Of course, Fabrizio "Fab" Bellucci has a slick explanation for jumping ship. But when he's found dead the next morning under a palm tree in the alley behind Lana's café, she becomes the prime suspect.Even the island's handsome police chief isn't quite certain of her innocence. But Lana isn't the only one in town who was angry with Fabrizio. Jilted lovers, a shrimp boat captain, and a surfer with ties to the mob are all suspects as trouble brews on the beach.With her stoned, hippie dad, a Shih Tzu named Stanley, and a new, curious barista sporting a punk rock aesthetic at her side, Lana's prepared to turn up the heat to catch the real killer. After all, she is a former award-winning reporter. As scandal hangs over her beachside café, can Lana clear her name and win the championship -- or will she come to a bitter end?
After the events of the last few months here in the US, I find myself gravitating to cozies more and more often. There’s something so comforting about their predictability. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. I read a lot of romance, too, and there’s just something about reading characters who are constantly, by nature of the genre, very close to each other and exchanging bodily fluids while I can’t even go to the grocery store without masking up and staying at least 6 feet from everyone I see, that I find very unsettling.
And while here, everyone is meeting and talking and gathering, it doesn’t bother me as much. Most of the characters we meeting in cozies are just going to work. It’s unfortunate that their work involves finding dead bodies and trying to figure out how they got that way.
Grounds for Murder was a fun start to a new series. Poor Lana Lewis. She recently lost her job and her husband, so she moved back to her hometown of Devil’s Beach, Florida to help her dad at his coffee shop – Perkatory. He’s been running it since her mom died, and he wants to be able to take a little bit of a break and do other things.
Fabrizio Bellucci is her star employee. His latte art almost guarantees that they’ll win the upcoming state barista championship that they’ve entered. At least until he quits days before the event, without even telling Lana, going to work for their biggest competitor and taking his skills with him. He’s found dead soon after, and based on the animosity between him and Lana, she’s one of the local police’s top suspects.
We know Lana didn’t do it, but it’s easy to see why the police think she might have. Look – no matter how mad you are at someone, don’t ever yell out “I wish you were dead” or something similar, especially in front of other people. If anything does happen to that person, you’ll obvioulsy be suspect number 1. A lesson Lana learns the hard way.
There are a lot of side characters, but the cast never becomes overwhelming. There’s an adorable dog, of course. The relationship between Lana and her dad is adorable. He’s coping with the loss of Lana’s mom by smoking a lot of weed and trying as much yoga, meditation, and silent days as he can. There’s a budding romance between Lana and the new chief of police, and a mystery in Lana’s past that I’m sure will come up later in the series.
As a former crime reporter in Miami, Lana realizes that even though she’s no longer a suspect, she can use the skills she has retained to try and find the killer. And she needs to do it while also improving her latte foam art skills so they have a chance in the competition.
Overall, this was a fun start to a new series. The author doesn’t seem to have a website, so I can’t find any more information on what’s coming up, but I think there are at least a couple more books planned in the series, and I’ll make a note to grab them when they do.
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