Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Review: Uncommon Grounds

Uncommon Grounds by Sandra Balzo
3 stars

Reasons for reading: I came across it when looking up a nonfiction book about coffee with the same title for my husband and thought it sounded fun; Every Month is a Holiday Challenge - Caffeine Awareness Month and Mystery list for the Triple 8 Challenge

First line: "I was late the Monday we were scheduled to open Uncommon Grounds."

Book description: "Patricia Harper has been killed by an espresso machine hot-wired to electrocute its owner - and in Uncommon Grounds, her very own gourmet coffee store, on opening day. Maggy Thorsen, displaced PR executive turned coffee maven, wants to know who killed her partner and put the future of Uncommon Grounds in jeopardy. Maggy desperately needs the store to succeed, so she joins forces with Sarah Kingstown, Patricia's closest friend, to investigate her killing. "

My thoughts: I always say I'm not a mystery reader, yet I end up with all these mysteries! Maybe I'm in denial. But I enjoyed this one.

Even though I often find the whole ordinary person solving mysteries thing a bit hard to believe (which is a genre thing, not the fault of this book), I liked Maggy and admired her sharp eyes and ability to make connections. I also liked that she wasn't always right on the first try, but she kept going. The tension in her relationship with sexy detective Pavlik was crackling and there was humour, too. For example, the scene where Maggy decides to go on a stakeout but forgets to bring the red and blue ski mask that she'd planned to disguise herself with.

The settings were also well done. Brookhills, despite sounding rather Stepford-esque in its concern over appearances, is a nice small town. I liked Maggy's little house ("shack") with her enormous sheepdog Frank and the blue stucco living room. Uncommon Grounds sounds like a lovely coffee shop and I also wanted to eat butter burgers over at the lunch counter at Goddard's pharmacy. There's even a library, complete with a nosy, tax-preparing librarian!

As for the mystery, I never guessed whodunit and there were lots of red herrings and surprising twists along the way.


Anonymous said...

I've heard that On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle is another cute coffee house mystery.

inktree said...

Off-topic, but is being a librarian all that you thought it would be and more? I'm trying to decide what I want to do, and it's one of the things I'm considering. How do you like it?

tinylittlelibrarian said...

Stephanie - wow, yet another mystery niche! :)

Sarah - Gosh........that's a toughie. But I could probably work up a pretty big rant on it. :)

To try to be brief - I love, love, being a children's/YA librarian. But I do not love and am not cut out to be what I'm expected to be, which is a children's/YA librarian - adult reference librarian - social worker - computer technician - immigration assistance worker - babysitter -manager without the title/pay. (Among other things!)

Feel free to e-mail me if you'd like to hear more ranting. :) tinylibrarian at hotmail.com

heather (errantdreams) said...

I've become addicted to mysteries of late. :D A coffee-related mystery sounds like fun!

tinylittlelibrarian said...

If you're in the mood for a quick, coffee-flavoured mystery, I'd say this one will hit the spot!