Thursday, December 3, 2015

Death Before Decaf: A Java Jive Mystery by Caroline Fardig

Free copy received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Overall, I felt that this was an "okay" cozy mystery. While I did not particularly enjoy the romantic aspect because I felt that it was a little cliched and clunky, the mystery itself was interesting and novel.

In the book, Juliet Langley has returned to her college town to work for her old crush and former co-worker, the now-owner of local coffee shop Java Jive. Juliet has returned because her life and career have crashed and spectacularly burned after a horrible relationship with an apparently horrible person has ended.

Given Juliet's experience both at Java Jive and in the food industry, her old crush and one of her best friends Pete makes her manager. Juliet, however, does not appear to remotely be a people-person and immediately pisses off pretty much everyone in her employ. This is only made worse when the chef turns up dead.

Juliet is, of course, a prime suspect. In order to try to clear her name, she delves into amateur sleuthing. With the help of a local college professor who seems perhaps much more sinister than at first glance and, of course, Pete, Juliet slowly works through a list of culprits as more people end up dead and Juliet begins to get death threats herself.

So that's the set up and it's a good one. I generally liked the characters and I especially liked Seth (the professor). I did not particularly like that, rather than tale responsibility for her anger issues, Juliet simply called her temper the Red Headed She Devil (Juliet is a red-head)... it was too cutesy and lame as an excuse for her poor people skills. And I did not particularly like the cliched and, somehow, also clunky romantic triangle between Juliet, Pete, and Seth that is rather unsatisfying in the end (though this is a series, so surely there is more to come).

But as I say, the mystery itself was fun and it was a good, quick read for a cold night. I would recommend to "cozy mystery" fans, especially if someone were looking for a softly-steamy romantic one with a fiery protagonist. Overall, THREE of five stars.

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