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From the Grounds Up (Maggy Thorsen Mysteries) Paperback – January 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Maggy Thorsen, the proprietor of Uncommon Grounds, finds that rebuilding her coffee shop in the Old Brookhills section of Brookhills, Wis., can be murder in Balzo's witty, smoothly plotted fifth caffeine cozy (after 2009's Brewed, Crude and Tattoed). When Maggy's real estate agent friend, Sarah Kingston, inherits the Old Brookhills depot, Sarah proposes to make the charming depot the shop's new home—and become Maggy's partner. Kornell Eisvogel, the obnoxious husband of the depot's previous owner, threatens trouble until he stalls his car on the tracks just in time to meet the 8:15 commuter train. Kornell's son, a remodeling contractor, soon pitches in as third partner. But someone doesn't want the coffee shop to be reborn. Inexplicable accidents, Sarah's arrest, and yet another death hamper the process. Despite warnings from Jake Pavlik, her county sheriff honey, Maggy is determined to track down the culprit. Fans of sassy, lighthearted whodunits will be satisfied. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Milwaukee coffee house owner Maggy Thorsen seems to have perpetual bad luck. When her store, Uncommon Grounds, was destroyed in a blizzard, she vowed to reopen. When her business partner decided that she wanted out, Maggy enlisted her real-estate agent, Sarah Kingston, in the project. Then their choice of an abandoned railway depot for the location of the new store—a new commuter train would bring customers—turns potentially disastrous when a series of accidents that might not be accidents haunts the neighborhood. Someone does not want Uncommon Grounds to reopen, but Maggy and Sarah refuse to give up. A witty cozy with eccentric characters and a fast-moving plot. --Barbara Bibel --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Maggy Thorsen Mysteries
  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Severn House Trade Paperback; Reprint edition (January 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847512038
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847512031
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,153,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sandra Balzo is an award-winning author of crime fiction, including eleven books in two different mystery series from Severn House--the Wisconsin-based Maggy Thorsen Mysteries and Main Street Murders, set in the High Country of North Carolina and featuring journalist AnnaLise Griggs.

Film rights for the Maggy Thorsen Coffeehouse Mysteries have been optioned toward development for television or film. Garnering starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist, Balzo's novels are recommended to readers of Janet Evanovich, Charlaine Harris, Harlan Coben, Joan Hess and Margaret Maron.

Find Sandy online at, Pinterest (, Facebook (Sandra Balzo Mysteries) and Twitter (@SandraBalzo).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on March 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
With the economy already hurting her Uncommon Grounds coffee shop, Maggy Thorsen is in disbelief when the freak May blizzard hammers Brookhills, Wisconsin destroying her store. Her caustic friend realtor Sarah Kingston takes her to the train station where a bistro was just closed and a commuter line to and from Milwaukee is to open. Sarah owns the depot inheriting half when her dad died years ago and the rest last week when Aunt Vi passed away. She offers a business partnership, which Maggy accepts.

Aunt Vi's husband Kornell Eisvogel arrives at the depot to hassle with Sarah. He sees the time on the depot clock so leaves as he must drive in daylight. However, the two women hear the train and crunch. They rush out to see that Kornell is dead. Maggy's boyfriend Sheriff Jack Pavlik leads the inquiry and learns the clock was switched and the victim's car tampered to stall on the tracks. When the two partners go to Brookhills Manor to pick up Vi's stuff, they are almost run over by Klepto Clara and her hot rod wheelchair. As they leave the women find Clara dead and Pavlik questioning them again. Someone is killing people associated with the depot, but whom and why remains darker than Maggy's strongest brew.

The latest Uncommon Grounds amateur sleuth (see Bean There, Done That and Grounds for Murder) is the usual terrific tale as the sheriff, his subordinates and readers know that wherever Maggy goes a corpse is bound to precede her. The lighthearted story line is fast-paced and breezy as Sarah provides humor with her in your face veracity and a killer wants to grind Maggy's coffee shop to the ground. Fans will enjoy this fine flavored brew, as Maggy, murder, and mayhem meet in the Brookhills Train Station.

Harriet Klausner
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl A. Reynolds VINE VOICE on March 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
Maggy is looking for somewhere to house Uncommon Grounds, since the coffee shop burned down along with the rest of the small strip mall it was located in during events in the last book. On an almost non-existent budget and now sans Caron, her business partner, who must bow out due to financial strains, Maggy is wondering what to do. Then her moody friend Sarah, a real estate agent, offers to take Caron's place as her partner AND provide a building--an old railroad depot that (unknown to many) is about to become active again when Brookhills once again becomes a train stop. Sarah owns the building, as it was willed to her by her recently-deceased aunt, and her cousin Ronny is a contractor/developer, so it would seem that things are looking up.

However, as soon as the papers are signed and they begin making plans, accidents start happening at the depot site, including the death of Sarah's crabby step-uncle, whose car was t-boned by a passing train when it stalled on the tracks. Maggy senses that someone doesn't want her to re-open Uncommon Grounds--at least not at the depot--but who? Of course she begins poking her nose in and with a few dropped clues from her boyfriend the Sheriff, discovers that Uncle Kornell's 'accident' was actually a murder.

Love this series with its edgy, slightly irreverent humor, relaxed atmosphere and easy reading style. Maggy is a breath of fresh air compared to most of the cookie-cutter cozy heroines, and her friends are fully-fleshed, great characters too--including her gassy sheepdog, Frank. (She really ought to be nominated for a Watson award for the best sidekick! LOL) Very much looking forward to the next book in the series.
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By ITZME on April 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the 5th book in the Maggy Thorsen Mysteries. Maggie has lost her location for Uncommon Grounds and is now looking for a new site. Through her friend Sarah, she is able to find the perfect spot - the old train depot. There are plans in the work that a commuter train will be stopping in Brookhills in the near future, so this would be perfect for a coffee shop. Many "accidents" happen to them and the depot - seems someone doesn't want them opening their shop there.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Forced to move her Uncommon Grounds coffee shop to new digs to a freak snow in the previous novel in the series, Brewed, Crude and Tattooed (Maggy Thorsen), Maggy Thorsen agrees to a partnership with real-estate agent extraordinaire Sarah Kingston. Sarah's been Maggy's snooping sidekick since the very first novel in the series, Uncommon Grounds (A Maggy Thorsen Mystery), and the two have formed a great friendship. But will Sarah's notoriously brusque manner destroy Uncommon Grounds -- or their friendship, as Jack Pavlik, county sheriff and Maggy's love interest, predicts?

Early on, Sarah's uncle by marriage, Kornell Eisvogel dies when a train hits his Buick. But authorities discover that someone sabotaged his car. Sure, Uncle Kornell -- dubbed Crazy Kornell -- was a thoroughly obnoxious old man, but who would kill him? But crazy Uncle Kornell's death is just the first of a series of accidents at the proposed new site for Uncommon Grounds: the old train depot at Brookhills, the wealthy exurb west of Milwaukee where Maggy and Sarah live. The site will prove pretty lucrative when commuter service from Brookhills to Milwaukee resumes in a few months. Could someone be trying to jettison the women's plans? Or is the threat more personal? So much of the "bad luck" seems to affect Sarah. Maggy doesn't think it's all a coincidence.

Sandra Balzo makes an excellent recovery from the lackluster "Brewed, Crude and Tattooed" with "From the Grounds Up." The novel spells the return of some wonderful characters and the introduction of a few delightful new ones. You won't regret picking up this book when you're looking for a breezy read.
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