by Cynthia Chow
& Sandra Balzo
What is better for the cold winter nights than coffee and a good book-this week we have a review & giveaway of the latest coffee shop mystery by Sandra Balzo, along with a fun coffee related guest post by Sandra including a recipe for an eggnog latte. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of To the Last Drop. We also have a link to order it from Amazon, and from an indie bookstore where a portion goes to help support KRL.
To the Last Drop: A Maggy Thorsen Mystery by Sandra Balzo
Review by Cynthia Chow
Uncommon Grounds coffee shop owner Maggy Thorsen thought that she was being responsible by reporting to the authorities the nearly fifty-thousand dollars in cash hidden in a trunk left for her by her late brother. It was why she was meeting with financial planner Lynne Swope, sister of the town librarian and a new resident of Brookhills, Wisconsin. The news that Lynne’s husband has just joined Maggy’s ex-husband’s dental practice is a complication, but not a conflict of interest. What does become a concern is when Maggy and her business partner Sarah Kingston discover William Swope’s body, which had plunged out of his office window at Thorsen Dental.
Although it initially appears to be a suicide, Maggy is not so sure. Having earned the reputation of being the Jessica Fletcher of Brookhills, Maggy questions the evidence and those closest to the oral surgeon. Despite her boyfriend, county sheriff Jake Pavlik, doing his best to discourage Maggy’s involvement, she somehow finds herself consoling Lynne and advocating on her behalf. Maggy does this despite the fact that Lynne has a pretty fluid interpretation of the truth, she’s not the most sympathetic widow, and Lynne’s own daughter seems both secretive and hostile. It’s a tense situation made all the worse when Jake makes a declaration that draws a line in the sand for their relationship.
In this ninth of the Maggy Thorsen Mystery series, Maggy spends little time running Uncommon Grounds, leaving that up to her very capable employees. Instead, Maggy and a very acerbic and cynical Sarah track down the woman who was stalking Dr. William Swope, the female employees he harassed, and former practice he may have cheated. It is Maggy’s moral compass that explains her compulsion to investigate despite the lack of sympathetic victims and Jake’s warnings against getting further involved. Skillful writing and very biting and clever dialogue will keep readers thoroughly entertained, and the conclusion is as satisfying as it rewarding. This continues to be a reliably enjoyable and fun mystery series.
Coffee & Books
by Sandra Balzo
In my newest book, To the Last Drop, coffeehouse owner Maggy Thorsen and her partner Sarah Kingston are gearing up for the holiday season, which Maggy informs Sarah accounts for more than 50 percent of their sales every year. That’s a lot of coffee. And accompanying gear, of course. Coffee is big business.
To the Last Drop is the ninth book in the Maggy series. I started work on the first, Uncommon Grounds, when I was downsized from my corporate public relations job in 1996–a full eight years before the book was published in 2004. During those intervening years and countless rejections and revisions, I remember thinking, “Please God, don’t let gourmet coffee go the way of the hula hoop before this book is sold.”
Well, I needn’t have worried. According to the 67th National Coffee Drinking Trends report, from the National Coffee Association (yes, there is one), daily consumption of espresso-based beverages has nearly tripled in the last eight years.
In Uncommon Grounds, Maggy observes, “. . .afternoon customers were much younger, like around fifteen. Teenagers seemed to have found in coffee something that not only made them feel like adults, but also was legal and couldn’t get them pregnant.” Now dubbed millennials, this group is leading the charge, with nearly 40 percent reporting having a gourmet coffee beverage the previous day. And what better time of year to drink it than now?
A Wisconsin native, I recently moved to Monterey, California, after six years in South Florida. Not a fan of heat and humidity, I love that it feels like a Wisconsin spring or fall here year-round. The shorter days and chill in the air calls for toasty drinks, and one of my favorites this time of the year is an egg nog latte. It’s a great drink to serve to family and friends around the holidays and, believe me, it couldn’t get any easier:
1 shot quality espresso
10 oz steamed eggnog (“lite” eggnog works best for frothing)
Cinnamon and/or nutmeg for dusting
Combine espresso and steamed eggnog in a latte mug. Dust with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Like I said, simple. If you’re interested in more caffeine-infused holiday recipes, including Chocolate Latte cookies and Roast Beef with Coffee Gravy, check out my website www.SandraBalzo.com and click on the far right tab, “Caffeine.”
To enter to win a copy of To the Last Drop, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “drop,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 17, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.
Click on this link to purchase this book & a portion goes to help support KRL & an indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:
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Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.