Book Review

Cold Brew Corpse

Cold Brew Corpse

  • Author: Tara Lush
  • Genre: Cozy Mystery
  • Publication Date: December 7, 2021
  • Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
  • Series: A Coffee Lover’s Mystery #2

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am offering my honest opinion voluntarily.

CONTENT WARNING: murder, violence

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Espresso bar owner Lana Lewis returns in Tara Lush’s second Coffee Lover’s mystery, a stimulating read that fans of Cleo Coyle and Laura Childs will savor to the last drop.

It’s a steamy September, and business is brisk at Perkatory, the hottest coffee shop in Devil’s Beach, FL. Much of the clientele pours in from Dante’s Inferno, the hot yoga studio next door. But the bright, sunny Gulf Coast days turn decidedly dark-roast when the body of the studio’s owner turns up in a nearby swamp.

Between running Perkatory and training Stanley, her golden Shih Tzu puppy, reporter-turned-barista Lana Lewis is too busy to go sleuthing. But when the editor of the local paper asks her to write about the murder, Lana’s dreams of getting back into journalism start to percolate.

Lana discovers that the yogi has a nefarious past and her share of mug shots, so grinding her way through the suspect list is a large task. She learns that the victim was fatally beaned by an SUV before she was dumped in the swamp. But was the killer one of her students? An envious yoga teacher? Or a local photographer who seems to know too much?

But no one tells Lana Lewis what to do. Hunting the caf-fiend who killed the yogi puts Lana and Chief Noah’s relationship–and Lana’s life–in very hot coffee.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, so I obviously had to jump on the second. Since it’s been a while, I did a quick reread of book 1 in audiobook format. It put me in the mood to start this book, and settle back into the warm and sunny setting. And I chose the perfect time too, since a cold snap just started in my area. 

Sitting back with a fresh cup of coffee, I dove into the story to find out what happens next. It picks up right after the last book ends, at the close of the barista championship. Things seem to be going well for Lana, both professionally and personally — business is busy at Perkatory, and her romance with police chief Noah Garcia is heating up slowly but surely. However, when the owner of the yoga studio next door turns up dead, Lana is recruited to write an article for the local paper, and everything gets topsy-turvy. 

Lana definitely seems a lot more judgmental in this story than she did in the last one. We see a completely different side of her when she works as a reporter, and for someone who did this professionally for a while, I’m surprised at how she went about this. It didn’t feel very professional, and she definitely struggled to balance her duties at Perkatory with her sleuthing. 

The pacing was a little inconsistent with this one, as well. Since I’m already invested in the series and the main characters, it wasn’t bad, but I’d definitely suggest reading the first book before jumping into this one. The other aspects of the story kept me reading, if only to find out what was going on with Lana and Perkatory, and her in her romance with Noah. At first, the yogi in question is just missing, and isn’t even found dead until about 40% of the way into the story. And it’s hard to muster any sympathy for her, since she seems to be the most inauthentic and offensive person ever. But it does make for quite a wide suspect pool.

There weren’t a lot of surprises in the story (see gasp factor for evidence), but I was still stuck trying to figure out who the killer was for much of the story. When the reveal did come, I wasn’t overly surprised, but I was kind of expecting it to be someone else. I did laugh out loud a couple of times, generally when Lana tries to participate in yoga. And Stanley definitely has my heart — he’s my favorite character, but then again, I’m always a sucker for a puppy. 

Overall, it’s a cute, light, fluffy read. And it always makes me crave a cup of coffee, even though I’m definitely not as huge of a fan as Lana is. It kind of makes me wish I was a coffee aficionado, though. This is a series I’m hooked on, and will still be waiting for the next installment in the series. Hopefully, I’ll get back the lighthearted, non-judgmental Lana that I loved so much in the first book. And see a little more action between her and Noah, who I also love. 

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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