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Uncommon Grounds (A Maggy Thorsen Mystery Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Sandra Balzo
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $3.99

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Book Description

In her delightful debut, Balzo puts a 21st-century spin on the traditional cozy, replacing tea with coffee as the comfort beverage of choice. Maggy Thorsen, a divorcée whose husband left her for his 24-year-old dental hygienist, and two women friends are eager to open a coffee shop, Uncommon Grounds, in the small Wisconsin town of Brookhills, whose inhabitants include such recognizable types as the local gossip and tennis moms. In a world where Starbuck's and other chains are ubiquitous, Maggy and her friends have their work cut out for them. The challenge becomes even greater when Maggy discovers the body of one of her partners, Patricia Harper, on the floor of their coffee shop. Determined to find out who killed Patricia and why, Maggy delves into the mystery with a sense of humor that would make Miss Marple smile. In her search for the truth, she works with, and sometimes against, the new and unpredictable county sheriff, Jake Pavlik—and uncovers at considerable personal risk the secrets of some of the town's most prominent citizens. Readers will want to curl up with this winner with a cappuccino or maybe even a Viennese cinnamon latte.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review
"...as wonderfully rich and sharply written as anything going. What moves Balzo's book high above other writers is a sharp and often amusing skill that convinces us that this is real life and that it matters." –Chicago Tribune


Editorial Reviews

From 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. Maggy Thorsen, a divorcée whose husband left her for his 24-year-old dental hygienist, and two women friends are eager to open a coffee shop, Uncommon Grounds, in the small Wisconsin town of Brookhills, whose inhabitants include such recognizable types as the local gossip and tennis moms. In a world where Starbuck's and other chains are ubiquitous, Maggy and her friends have their work cut out for them. The challenge becomes even greater when Maggy discovers the body of one of her partners, Patricia Harper, on the floor of their coffee shop. Determined to find out who killed Patricia and why, Maggy delves into the mystery with a sense of humor that would make Miss Marple smile. In her search for the truth, she works with, and sometimes against, the new and unpredictable county sheriff, Jake Pavlik—and uncovers at considerable personal risk the secrets of some of the town's most prominent citizens. Readers will want to curl up with this winner with a cappuccino or maybe even a Viennese cinnamon latte.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"...as wonderfully rich and sharply written as anything going. What moves Balzo's book high above other writers is a sharp and often amusing skill that convinces us that this is real life and that it matters." --Chicago Tribune

"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." --Publishers Weekly

Product Details

  • File Size: 363 KB
  • Print Length: 248 pages
  • Publisher: NYLA (March 1, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004Q7CMPE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #275,526 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Caffeinated Delight November 11, 2004
Format:Hardcover
When former PR executive and new espresso shop owner Maggy Thorsen investigates the death of one of her partners--electrocuted by the espresso machine on opening morning--she also turns up the seamy underside of her leafy suburb. Brookhills, Wisconsin, boasts tennis Moms driving expensive SUVs, subdivisions full of mansion-like houses, and snooty residents to match. Recently divorced Maggy tootles around town trying to uncover the murderer in order to clear her own name. The cast of characters includes Kate McNamara, the annoying newspaper reporter, Gary Donovan, chief of police and former head of security for the local bank, and a distractingly handsome yet irritating new sheriff, Jake Pavlik. Maggy finds a sidekick in Sarah Kingston, a blunt-talking, chain-smoking real estate agent with a secret soft spot for children, and between the two of them they manage to take the murderer down. Amateur sleuth Maggy is good company, with her snappy phrases, funny one-liners, and wry observations. Describing the police chief, for instance, she says: "Gary had been an Eagle Scout, for God's sake. Or still was. I think that's like being an alcoholic, you never completely recover." Details of operating a gourmet coffee business give this mystery a contemporary and unique spin and make the reader long for a smooth creamy latte.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun and addicting read October 21, 2005
Format:Hardcover
On its surface UNCOMMON GROUNDS contains all the elements required for the traditional cozy --- small town, mysterious death, amateur sleuth --- while keeping the level of requisite suspension of disbelief to a minimum. The small town in this case is Brookhills, Wisconsin, where the grand opening of Uncommon Grounds, a gourmet coffee store, will be celebrated. A pall is cast upon the event, however, when Patricia Harper, one of three partners in the new business, is found face up and stone cold dead in front of the espresso machine on the morning of the grand opening. It appears that Harper electrocuted herself while brewing her daily, eye-opening latte. But we then learn that the newly installed espresso machine had been tampered with, resulting in Harper's sudden demise.

The immediate suspects are Caron Egan and Maggy Thorsen (who is the book's narrator), the remaining partners in the coffee shop venture, as well as Harper's husband David. The police scrutiny places Thorsen in contact with newly-minted county sheriff Jacob Pavlik, which of course causes sparks of all sorts to fly, especially when Thorsen, dissatisfied with the investigation into her friend's death, starts kicking over investigative rocks on her own, much to Pavlik's consternation. Thorsen finds that her investigation is uncovering more suspects than she can eliminate. She also discovers, to her dismay, that her deceased friend and business partner had a secret that she never shared with Thorsen and that might have resulted in her death. Thorsen, already dealing with the pressures of opening a new business and a pending divorce, soon finds that she is placing herself in danger as well, until salvation --- and more --- come from some unexpected sources.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars She Perks November 4, 2004
Format:Hardcover
UNCOMMON GROUNDS opens as newly single Maggy Thorsen opens the door to a new business. Uncommon Grounds is going to be a place for people in the town of Brookhills to get a break from the McDonald's coffee down the road. A fresh start for Maggy and her two partners. Unfortunately, partner Patricia has been grounded. That's right, folks, she's gotten a jolt from the Espresso machine like none before and lies in a pool of spilt milk.

The laughter will continue as you read this cozy "nouveau". The character of Maggy is a suburban ex with a Mike Hammer attitude. Balzo's other talents give the book a refreshing substance. The plotting is fast and well done. Small town coincidences don't seem forced. Motive, means and opportunity will keep you turning the pages. Best of all, when you're done, you'll want a second visit with the town and its people. Balzo knows the place she's writing. And, from the local preacher to the moving guy, she has the skill to give all her characters life.

Are you a fan of Stephanie? Do you enjoy Joan Hess? Balzo adds another voice to the argument that cozies aren't just for teacups anymore.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Make mine a latte February 7, 2006
Format:Hardcover
Fans of the light, romantic, humorous mystery have become spoiled in the past ten years, largely due to the successful continuing series penned by Janet Evanovich, starring Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter. To fill the gap until the next Plum book arrives, try an armchair trip to Wisconsin, to a small town with a newly-opened coffee shop, to an amateur detective with spunk and wit. Uncommon Grounds, by Sandra Balzo, has all the usual components of a formulaic modern-day whodunit-the divorced, slightly bitter heroine, the cop with an attitude, the stable of kooky and diverse characters, one or more of whom is the killer of the, you guessed it, one or more murder victims. But somehow, with more twists and turns than you would think possible in a novel of roughly 250 pages, Balzo manages to insert perceptive observations, at the same time infusing humor into her story ("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."). She provides a believable yet complicated plot that is all too real by today's codes of behavior and beliefs. By the end of the book, I was rooting for the good guys, was happy the bad guys got their due, and I was looking forward to another episode with Maggy Thorsen and Jake Pavlik. A much better-than-average mystery.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable cozy series but skip the audio version
This was a very enjoyable cozy with good characters and a good mystery however avoid the audiobook. The reader sounds way too young, in my opinion, and the quality of the audio is... Read more
Published 8 days ago by twinsmom
1.0 out of 5 stars Cost sky rocketed
Severly disappointed in the cost of the lastest in the Maggy Thorsen series. Prior books were priced starting at $3.99. The jump to $15.49 for Kindle, really .?! Read more
Published 3 months ago by karen g savard
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit dishelveled to start but got it all together by the end
This definitely had a "first novel" feel to it and although I don't know for sure, I'd suspect the publisher did not give a lot of editorial finesse/attention to this... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Cheryl L. Russell
5.0 out of 5 stars great start to a series
Maggy Thorsen spells her name unusually. But that's not the only unusual thing about her. Although a bit bitter about her impending divorce, she doesn't let that cloud her judgment... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Miss Ivonne
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read
I was looking for a book to dowload to read on my vacation. Nothing heavy. I took a chance on this author that I never heard of and was pleasantly surprised. Read more
Published 9 months ago by D. D. Hammond
5.0 out of 5 stars Super murder mysteries
Sandra Balzo's murder mysteries are super enjoyable. Plenty of humor, suspense, likeable characters and a sense of true life settings make the books very appealing and a treat to... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Barbara
5.0 out of 5 stars great series
Read every book in this series. The characters, story line and the flow of these books kept me up at night to find out "who did it".
Published 15 months ago by Valerie
5.0 out of 5 stars Good intro to character
What could be worse than the electrocution death of a friend and partner on opening day? Knowing it could have been herself, Maggy Thorsen. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Maggie Bishop
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
I enjoyed Sandra Balzo's Uncommon Grounds. There was suspense, romance, and complexity that kept me engaged until the end. I bought it on Kindle and have lent it to friends. Read more
Published on June 13, 2012 by Jane Newhagen
5.0 out of 5 stars Never saw it coming
I must say, I read a lot of mysteries and usually have an inkling of who-dun-it or my suspicions al least. Read more
Published on April 27, 2012 by Victoria Allman
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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 www.SandraBalzo.com, Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/sandrabalzo), Facebook (Sandra Balzo Mysteries) and Twitter (@SandraBalzo).

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