Publishing Info: September 2, 2003 by Penguin
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 7, 2012
Introducing a delightful new series featuring Clare Cosi, manager of the historic Village Blend coffeehouse...
Clare arrives at work to discover the assistant manager dead in the back of the store, coffee grounds strewn everywhere. Two detectives investigate. But when they find no sign of forced entry or foul play, they deem it an accident. Still, Clare is not convinced. And after the police leave, Clare can't help wondering...If this was an act of murder, is she in danger?
Breaking It Down Further: Clare Cosi, having just moved back to New York from the suburbs in New Jersey, has a rough start resuming co-ownership of the historical coffeehouse Village Blend when her assistant manager is found near dead after a spill down the service stairs in the shop. Although the police have no suspicion of foul play, Clare can’t help but stick to her gut feeling that Annabelle was pushed and didn’t just fall. Along with dealing from complications of her ex-husband back in town and her scheming mother-in-law to get them back together, Clare sets off to solve the mystery of Annabelle’s “accident” and set things right.
This was a pretty enjoyable read. Once I got a good block of time, I really breezed through it. I was extremely interested in how the mystery was going to play out and what the real cause of her fall down the stairs was. I really liked Clare’s character a lot — She seemed really down-to-earth and completely normal. Of course she has some skeletons in her closet like her ex-husband Matteo (Matt), who becomes a big part of the story. I loved the relationship with her mother-in-law known as “Madame”. They still have a great friendship and Madame still sees Clare as a daughter-in-law, and a very trustworthy one at that when she has Clare start running the Village Blend again.
I liked the love triangle (or set up for one) between Clare, Matt, and Lt Quinn — Madame is still trying to get Clare and Matt back together, even after they’ve been officially divorced for years — and Clare starts to formulate a little crush on Lt Quinn when he starts on the case. I’m really glad these relationships weren’t developed in this story… There’s a lot of opportunity now to develop the relationship (whichever one they choose to go with) in the future books.
What I didn’t like was the over-explanation of coffee. I know that this takes place in a coffeehouse and that’s Clare job, life, and passion, but I felt like it interfered with the story quite a bit at times. I know a lot of books include recipes in the back; for example, in the case of the Hannah Swensen books I’ve read, they’re interspersed, but blocked off as specifically recipes in between chapters. In ON WHAT GROUNDS, Clare was narrating how to make a latte, what a real espresso is, etc right in the middle of the action and the dialogue. It was pretty distracting to me… I either wasn’t interested half the time because I won’t need to use these coffee recipes or I already know the difference between coffee/espresso/latte/cappuccino, etc are, but mostly because it just cut right in the middle of everything I was interesting in reading. Maybe for some people it’s interesting information to make the book richer, but I just didn’t want it to be in the meat of the action, that’s all!
Hmm 3.5 or 4 stars? I can’t decide. I think closer to 4, but I don’t want to go so far as 3.75! I am really interested in future stories though, so I’ll go on the higher side.