The opening day of a new coffeeshop is the setting for death by espresso in this bright debut.
The victim is Patricia Harper, lying in a puddle of milk after her electrocution by the brand-new espresso machine. All you need to know about Brookhills, Wisconsin (pop. 6,000), is that business at Uncommon Grounds isn’t off a bit, and all you need to know about Patricia’s partner, former p.r. exec Maggy Thorsen, is that Maggy, still smarting from a nasty divorce, is pleased about the crowds because she needs the money. There’s much more to learn about Patricia, though, and county sheriff Jake Pavlik, newly arrived from the Chicago PD, is determined to poke into every corner of her life. Maybe the cad who tampered with the espresso maker was the coffeeshop’s third partner, copywriter Caron Egan, seen secretly leaving the premises the previous afternoon; or Patricia’s ex-lover, building inspector Roger Karsten; or realtor Sarah Kingston, the campaign manager who masterminded her one-vote loss to incumbent barber Rudy Fischer as town chairman. Maggy, in search of a Dr. Watson, isn’t much of a detective, but she does just fine playing Watson to an unexpected Holmes. The killer is another pleasant surprise.
Maggy’s amusingly matter-of-fact delivery helps lift her above the legion of plucky small-town divorcées who start business ventures, find corpses, take a jaundiced second look at their neighbors, and seek true love in the arms of the law.