Death Before Decaf (A Java Jive Mystery, #1)by Caroline Fardig

ebook, 296 pages
Published November 17th 2015 by Alibi
4 Stars

Synopsis: 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.

My Review: I had read the third book in this series some time ago and decided to go back to the beginning. I am glad I did. It introduced us to the characters and gave us some information about their past relationships. This was told using flashbacks and it filled in the details nicely. Juliet Langley, has returned to Nashville after losing her cafe. She is going to manage Java Jive owned by her best friend Pete. Gertie, Pete’s grandmother who raised him, is a lot of the comic relief in this story, I absolutely loved her character. Seth, is a regular at the cafe that seems to have fallen for Juliet, although he picked up quickly on the fact that she has deeper feelings for Pete than just friendship.

The story is a cozy murder mystery, where Juliet is one of the suspects. As in any cozy, she decides that in order to clear her name, she needs to investigate on her own. What she does, and what she finds will make you laugh one minute, then worry about her the next. She seems to be alienating much of the staff at the cafe while investigating, although she is not doing it intentionally.

There are many laugh out loud moments in this story, including the funeral of the murder victim. The plot is well developed and includes intrigue, suspicion and especially danger. The twist at the end was great, and I was not expecting it at all. This book has something for everyone, a mystery, humour, some romance, food and drink as well as human dynamics. I am now going to continue to read this series and see what else Juliet gets herself into.

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