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About Grounds for Murder
Grounds for Murder (A Coffee Lover’s Mystery)
1st in Series
Setting – Florida
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (December 8, 2020)
Hardcover: 320 pages
Digital ASIN: B0871KTTMC
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?
Fabrizio “Fab” Bellucci, the beach’s hottest barista is dead and former investigative journalist turned coffee shop manager Lana Lewis is at the top of the suspect list if the cause of death is indeed murder. You see Fab was her star employee until he quit without notice to work for her competitor. On top of that, they were registered as a team for the Sunshine State Barista Championship. So when she couldn’t hold in her fury any longer she confronts him in front of a crowd of people at Island Brewnette, the competing coffee shop.
The trouble is, the chief of police, who seems to have a bit of a crush on Lana, is leaning toward calling Fab’s death a suicide until the evidence proves otherwise. Lana knows Fab was a great casanova/gigolo with some shady connections so she finds plenty of other suspects and theories. She just needs to convince Chief Noah Garcia to follow her clues with her. If not, she and her new barista Erica Penmark will steam out the killer on their own.
I liked Lana Lewis right away. Divorced and unemployed she comes home to Devil’s Beach to manage Perkatory. The cafe was her mother’s dream so after her death her dad kept the business going but his heart wasn’t really into it full time. Lana takes over admitting she has a lot to learn about being a great barista but she has great employees and her dad to help her out. She is intelligent and kind and her investigative skills come in handy as she tries to catch a killer. Erika and Lana get along right away and they make a wonderful team whether it comes to sleuthing or coffee brewing. Lana’s dad is a laid back hippie kind of dude that does seem fazed my much but supports his daughter 100%. Police Chief Noah Garica also escaped the big city to come to Devil’s Beach never expecting to have a murder case on his plate but he sure does like dropping in at Perkatory to see Lana. All of these characters developed nicely over the course of the story but there is so much more to learn. The author has done an excellent job of giving readers characters we can care about.
The mystery she has brewed up is darn good too. Personally, I wish the suicide theory would have been put to rest much earlier with more focus on the variety of people who could have been suspects in Fab’s death. He left quite a path of ladies in his wake and at least one was married. The pushy reporter in Lana came out and she just wasn’t going to give up. Her actions lead to a really exciting big reveal.
I do love the beachy small-town setting. While jumping with tourists and busy residents it still had a relaxing vibe and a place I would love to visit.
Grounds for Murder was a delightful whodunit and has set this series off to a grand start. It’s entertaining with just the right amount of humor. I am looking forward to visiting these characters again soon.
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About Tara Lush
Tara Lush is a Rita Award finalist, an Amtrak writing fellow, and a George C. Polk Award-winning journalist. For the past decade, she’s been a reporter with the Associated Press, covering crime, alligators, natural disasters, and politics. She also writes contemporary romance set in tropical locations. A fan of vintage pulp-fiction book covers, Sinatra-era jazz, and 1980s fashion, she lives with her husband and two dogs on the Gulf coast.
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