Live and Let Grind
- Author: Tara Lush
- Genre: Cozy Mystery
- Publication Date: October 11, 2022
- Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
- Series: A Coffee Lover’s Mystery #3
Thank you to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
CONTENT WARNING: murder
Devil’s Beach is percolating with a hot murder case, and reporter-turned-barista Lana Lewis could be the next to get beaned in Tara Lush’s third Coffee Lover’s mystery, perfect for fans of Cleo Coyle and Lucy Burdette.
Laid-off journalist Lana Lewis is thriving as the proprietor of Perkatory, a coffee shop on quirky Devil’s Beach island, Florida. She’s juggling a relationship with police chief Noah Garcia, enjoying the company of her best friend, Erica, and relishing the companionship of her golden Shih Tzu, Stanley. Only problem is her neighbor, Gus, who incessantly uses his leaf blower, disturbing everyone in the neighborhood. Lana has learned to tune it out, but Erica’s rage boils over and she confronts Gus.
Then Gus is found dead, killed when his leaf blower explodes. Erica immediately becomes suspect number one. But there are plenty of other candidates as well: Gus’s soon-to-be ex-wife, Honey Bailey, who thinks she’ll be written out of his will; Mickey Dotson and Doug Beck, who were scalded financially after purchasing a pirate-themed tourist cruise business from Gus; and plenty of angry neighbors who’ve had run-ins with him.
As the clock ticks down will Lana get someone to spill the beans on the killer so she can clear her friend’s name, or will Erica go to jail for a crime she didn’t commit?
This is such a fun and cute series, and it embodies everything I love about a cozy mystery. Quirky small town, adorable pet, memorable characters, a sweet romance that’s developing, and punny titles, this book has it all.
In this third book of the series, Lana is still struggling with the changes in her life. After a devastating divorce and the end of her journalism career, she’s returned to her slow-paced hometown of Devil’s Beach, Florida, where she now runs her family coffee shop, cleverly called Perkatory. She’s a through and through coffee lover, but hasn’t fully given up on her journalist tendencies, even when it causes her to butt heads with her police chief boyfriend, Noah.
Speaking of Noah, there’s something going on in their relationship. He’s a total keeper—sweet, smart, handsome, and thoughtful, except that he seems to be somewhat reluctant to have Lana meet his family. And he’s definitely not too keen on having her snoop around crime scenes. Which appear to be popping up regularly. Especially now that Lana’s overzealously leaf-blowing neighbor has been murdered.
But when Lana’s best friend becomes the main suspect, she just can’t help herself, and starts to do some detective work of her own. Lana is actually pretty good at figuring things out, making this an intriguing story. I loved the way she conducts her own research, enlisting the help of certain quirky characters in her town.
I especially enjoy the way that the author leans in to Florida’s weird reputation, even going as far as to have an alcohol shot called “The Florida Man.” There’s no shortage of strange characters in the story, and Lana and her crew just kind of shrug it off, like … it’s just Florida. Since the story takes place in winter, she also pokes some fun at the way the characters bundle up for the “cold weather.” I couldn’t help but giggle at the visual of people walking around in chunky sweaters and puffer coats and boots with shorts, because I’ve been to Florida in the winter and people actually do that, while as a New Yorker who has seen *actual* winter weather, I’m usually attired in shorts and a tank top, sweating my butt off.
The story was funny and intriguing, and I loved the way there are so many red herrings. I couldn’t stop reading, and loved the ride. The plot twists surprised me and had me on the edge of my seat to find out who it was, and I was also wondering what was really going on with Lana and Noah. This was the first time I saw a queer couple represented in the story, which was nice to see, even if I couldn’t help but giggle when their names rhymed. I also love the choice to have Noah be Cuban-American, and the beautiful representation of his heritage, which was done thoughtfully and it felt naturally. He isn’t the only character of color, either, which was great to see. This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series, and while I definitely don’t want to see more people die, I certainly hope that this series sticks around for a long time, because I can’t wait for more books in this great series!
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: 5
Categories: Book Review