French Roast

French Roast
Book Description
Wisconsin coffeehouse owner Maggy Thorsen's cousin, Jacque Oui, is in trouble. Big trouble! Not only is his cash-strapped Schultz's Market facing competition from a new grocery chain, but his supposedly ex-wife Paulette has arrived from Paris, spectacularly claiming that she and Jacque are still married, despite Jacque being engaged to Maggy's friend and star barista Amy Caprese.

When a huge fire rips through Schultz’s Market and a gruesome discovery is made in the shop's upper flat, Maggy is reluctantly drawn into her cousin's affairs. But where is he? With Jacque suddenly missing, can Maggy uncover the truth behind the disturbing events triggered by Pauline's arrival, or is she about to be scorched by a determined killer?

From Publishers Weekly:

In Balzo’s entertaining 15th Maggy Thorsen mystery (after The Big Steep), Maggy, co-owner of the Uncommon Grounds coffeehouse in Brookhills, Wis., must deal with complicated and ultimately dangerous liaisons involving her friends and family. Primary among these is the one between Maggy’s distant cousin Jacques Oui, owner of Brookhills’s upscale market, and coffeehouse barista Amy Caprese. The two seem on the verge of marriage until Paulette Badeux arrives in town from Paris, claiming to be Jacques’s long-lost wife.

Within days, Jacques’s market is set on fire. The charred remains of two bodies are found in the smoldering rubble, their identities uncertain. Later, Maggy, whose snarky business partner, Sarah Kingston, refers to her as the corpse-stumbler, does indeed come upon a third body. Are the deaths related? Do they share a motive? Suspects and potential motives abound. One of this series’ many strengths is the anxiety-free rapport between Maggy and her beau, Sheriff Jake Pavlik. He respects Maggy’s investigative skills and even encourages her participation. Vividly drawn characters and dialogue crackling with wit propel the fair-play plot. Readers will hope Maggy has a long run. Agent: Nancy Yost, Nancy Yost Literary. (Dec.)

From Kirkus:

A reunion between long-parted spouses goes horribly wrong.

When her barista, Amy Caprese, announces that she has an appointment with a psychologist, Wisconsin coffeehouse owner Maggy Thorsen senses trouble. Not only does Amy whip up a tasty latte, but her constant good humor helps keep Maggie and her business partner, Sarah Kingston, on an even keel. Could a romance with Maggy's cousin Jacque [sic] Oui, the irascible owner of Schultz’s Market, be enough to send even sunny Amy running for the nearest therapist? Amy knows about Jacque’s previous wife, the late Naomi Verdeaux. But when an even earlier spouse named Paulette Badeaux surfaces, Amy freaks, especially since the first Madame Oui claims that her divorce from Jacque was never made legal. Paulette camps out in Jacque’s apartment above Schultz’s while Jacque moves in temporarily with Maggy and her fiance, Sheriff Jake Pavlik. That night, Schultz’s burns to the ground, leaving behind two charred bodies: one male and one female. Maggy awakes to find Jacque missing. Did the temperamental grocer perish in a midnight assignation with his ex? Did Paulette’s plans for a romantic reunion get too hot to handle?

The body count rises quickly as Balzo’s quirky cozy turns darker than a freshly brewed espresso.

From Booklist:

Coffeehouse owner and amateur sleuth Maggy Thorsen’s newest adventure takes her on a wild trip. Her barista, Amy Caprese, has a French boyfriend, Jacque Oui, an older man who owns a failing supermarket. He also has two ex-wives, one dead and one, Paulette, who suddenly shows up in sleepy Brookhills, Wisconsin. Then it turns out Paulette may still be married to Jacque, a revelation that sends Amy off to her therapist. Shady entrepreneur Jamie Bright wants to buy Jacque’s store, but Jacque is determined to keep it. When a mysterious fire starts in the store and two bodies are discovered in the ruins, Maggy’s fiancé, Pavlik, the town sheriff, investigates. Maggy and her business partner get involved to support Amy, and they uncover a tangled web of relationships that extend back to Jacque’s past in France. Balzo's latest (following The Big Steep, 2022) will keep readers on their toes as they track the many characters and plot turns.

Solid cozy fare.


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Tips from the grounds floor
Cinnamon and nutmeg round out the flavor of coffee, softening and smoothing its sharp edges.
Always use fresh, cool water and unbleached filters when brewing coffee.
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