Book Review

Grounds For Murder

Grounds for Murder

  • Author: Tara Lush
  • Genre: Cozy Mystery
  • Publication Date: December 8, 2020
  • Publisher: Dreamscape Media
  • Series: A Coffee Lover’s Mystery #1

CONTENT WARNING: death, mention of suicide, infidelity

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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? 

I’ve been getting a little more into the cozy mystery genre, and finding it really enjoyable, especially in between heavier or more intense reads. There’s nearly always some quirky yet lovable characters, cute puns, and a main character who manages to get wrapped up in a murder investigation. This book is no different.

Lana Lewis is basically driving the struggle bus. She’s living in her hometown after losing her job as a reporter and going through a tough divorce. Running her family coffee shop, cleverly called Perkatory, is helping her get her life together, but of course things aren’t going smoothly. When her star employee Fab quits to work for the competition right before a huge championship, Lana is obviously furious, and has words with him, just a day before he turns up dead.

Now Lana has to deal with her brewing feelings for the police chief, trying to figure out what actually happened to Fab so she can clear her name, taking care of Fab’s little puppy Stanley, and prepare for the barista championship, Lana has her hands full! 

I listened to the audiobook, so the narrator came across as perky and very positive, no matter what. Lana was a character that was easy to like, despite her use of words like “hecking” and “blerg,” which I don’t generally hear often in spoken conversation. I liked the way that she was awkward around Noah, the police chief, and struggled to build a friendship with a new female friend as an adult — it’s tough! She absolutely won me over when she adopted Stanley right away, especially since that’s the only kind of insta-love that I can really believe in. There’s something special about a puppy (and yes, ALL dogs are puppies, no matter their age) that inspires insta-love in me. 

While there isn’t a lot of gasp-worthy plot twists, I was still kept intrigued by the plot and the vast number of suspects. The fact that Fab was a playboy with some hidden secrets made it believable that there were quite a few people who might have meant him harm, and Lana worked to track down any and all leads. I respected that she trusted her judgment, but still took Noah’s advice to heart. 

This is a good start to a new series, and I’m looking forward to reading more of it!

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 2

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