Patricia Harper, the quintessential Brookhills Barbie, is dead, no doubt about it. Dead in a pool of milk in front of the espresso machine. And it's no accident.
In a town where you "dress," not just for success, but for a trip to the hardware store, who had hot-wired the espresso machine to froth one of the town's leading latte-loving citizens with 220 volts in her own gourmet coffee shop the day of its grand opening?
Maggy Thorsen, displaced PR executive turned desperate coffee maven, sets out to discover who killed one of her partners before their new business can go, quite literally, down the drain. As if that weren't challenge enough, she has to do it while keeping the town's tennis moms and senior citizens from ripping each other to shreds, and her third partner -- the one who's still alive -- both upright and out of jail.
Along the way, Maggy manages to incur the wrath of Brookhills' self-important new sheriff, Jake Pavlik, who apparently doesn't recognize the redeeming social value of a really good cup of coffee. She also stumbles over small town politics and unbridled ambition -- not to mention rampant infidelity -- on her way to a truth she's suddenly not all that sure she wants to know.
Publishers Weekly: "In her delightful debut, Balzo puts a 21st-century spin on the traditional cozy, replacing tea with coffee as the comfort beverage of choice. Readers will want to curl up with this winner with a cappuccino or maybe even a Viennese cinnamon latte."
Chicago Tribune: "...as wonderfully rich and sharply written as anything going. What moves Balzo's book high above other writers who try to cover the same territory is a sharp and often amusing skill that convinces us that this is real life, and that it matters."