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Brewed, Crude and Tattooed (Maggy Thorsen Mysteries) Hardcover – June 1, 2009

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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In the Barren Ground
Rookie cop Tana Larsson must track a killer—but can she survive the wild and frozen dark? Learn More
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Near the start of Balzo's lively fourth Maggy Thorsen mystery (after 2008's Bean There, Done That), a sudden spring thundersnow traps Maggy and friends in Benson Plaza, the Brookhills, Wis., strip mall where Maggy rents space for her coffee shop, Uncommon Grounds. Cut off from all communication, with minimum light and no heat in her store, Maggy decides to seek help elsewhere in the plaza. In the snow she stumbles on the mall's landlord, Way Benson, with a hatchet or cleaver buried in his back. Since Way was threatening to evict Maggy and other Benson Plaza proprietors in order to sell the mall to a superstore chain, Benson had no lack of enemies. Murder suspects include the mall's barber, an elderly pharmacist, the lone worker at the Bible Store and the Vietnamese father and daughter with a food shop. Credible characters and a well-constructed plot compensate for Maggy's sometimes tedious deductive methods. (June)
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Review

Publishers Weekly: "Near the start of Balzo's lively fourth Maggy Thorsen mystery, a sudden spring "thundersnow" traps Maggy and friends in Benson Plaza, the Brookhills, Wis, strip mall where Maggy rents space for her coffee shop, Uncommon Grounds.. . . Credible characters and a well-constructed plot."
 
Kirkus Reviews: "A freak May snowstorm provides the perfect cover for murder in a suburban strip mall [and,] armed with flashlights from Goddard's Pharmacy, Maggy leads her mighty band of retailers on a quest to capture the killer."
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Product Details

  • Series: Maggy Thorsen Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Severn House Publishers (June 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0727867350
  • ISBN-13: 978-0727867353
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,981,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Cheryl A. Reynolds VINE VOICE on September 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
In this great fourth Maggy Thorsen 'coffee house' mystery, an unexpected spring snowstorm leaves Maggy and several other tenants from the strip mall where her coffee shop Uncommon Grounds is located totally stranded and cut off from the outside world. So when the owner of the mall, Way Benson, is found stabbed in the back and his head mutilated by a snowblower, the suspect list is pretty small, since the opportunity for an outsider to have done it is minimal. Maggy, who's already seen her share of dead bodies, starts asking questions, trying to think like her boyfriend, Sheriff Jake Pavlik, who is nowhere around. Just about everyone who knew Way had good reason to hate the man, but trying to find someone who had not only motive but means and opportunity as well isn't going to be easy. And things get even more complicated when Way's ex-wife is also killed.

I am really enjoying this series a lot. It's cozy, but an edgy, funky kind of cozy where 'adult themes' and the occasional four-letter word aren't swept under the rug. Maggy has a wicked sense of humor and I find myself liking her very much--she's sort of a fish out of water, since the suburb she lives in is a gossipy, high-class enclave and Maggy is struggling to make ends meet and isn't so worried about what the Joneses think of her.

I think I especially liked this entry in the series because the boyfriend wasn't around so the romancey bits which I often find annoying weren't there at all in this one. I have to admit that the little bit of 'love interest' in this series isn't ever intrusive though, and it doesn't take over the whole story line, so kudos to the author for that, too! A mystery that's actually a mystery instead of a romance in disguise! Imagine that!
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Format: Kindle Edition
Living in the North country, we get tonnes of severe snowstorms, so having people snowed in sounded like a good premise for a mystery. But the author probably has never lived in the North. I have never heard of a snow blower stopping when hitting an object. In my experience, they break the cotter pin and the blades stop spinning but the engine still goes. Furthermore, if it's warm enough to snow, it's not so cold that the snow in the doorway would become a solid ice chunk. There was nobody crude or tattooed here either.
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Format: Audible Audio Edition
Hapless coffee-shop owner Maggy Thorsen shows herself at her worst in this fourth installment in the series in which she and a motley crew are stranded at her coffee shop, Uncommon Grounds. Author Sandra Balzo tries to create an And And Then There Were None-style atmosphere in a tale in which one stranded soul after another winds up dead, but there's never any real sense of terror or suspense.

Brookhills, Wisconsin, a small, fictional wealthy exurb located west of Milwaukee, gets an unseasonable blizzard in May. Maggy; her partner at Uncommon Grounds, Caron Egan; the town's television weather "slut," blonde, perky Aurora Benson; her teenaged son Oliver and an additional collection of characters find themselves stranded at Benson Plaza, the strip mall where Uncommon Grounds is located. Even Maggy's sheepdog Frank ends up at the coffee shop, and yet others join the group as the novel -- and the storm -- rages on.

Maggy discovers the corpse of Way Benson, Benson Plaza's womanizing owner, buried in the falling snow with a hatchet in him. Benson planned to evict all of the tenants and turn the property over to a big-box grocery chain called Gross National Produce; that gave all the tenants a reason to want Benson dead. Benson's love-'em-and-leave-'em proclivities added quite a few spurned lovers to the suspect list. With communication cut off to the outside by the storm, Maggy realizes that she must take the lead in unmasking the killer, one of their own number.

The premise should produce a chilling page-turner, right? But somehow Balzo's novel never achieves the proper suspense.
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