Death Before Decaf Review
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Your neighborhood coffeehouse is supposed to be a place to relax and unwind—to enjoy a cup of coffee and maybe some conversation with friends. But in Death Before Decaf, author Caroline Fardig’s first Java Jive mystery, a beloved coffeehouse becomes the scene of a crime.

The story begins as Juliet Langley arrives in Nashville looking for a fresh start. After her fiancé robbed her blind, Juliet was forced to close her café. Her only chance of survival is to manage Java Jive, the coffeehouse where she worked through college. It won’t be an easy task, though. The place is a mess, and it’s losing money. And before the end of her first day on the job, she finds her head cook’s dead body in a dumpster. On one hand, the murder turns out to be great for business—but it also means that Juliet is a person of interest.

Death Before Decaf is an enjoyable introduction to a new cozy mystery series. The setting couldn’t be much cozier: a bustling Nashville coffeehouse that serves up coffee and comfort food while hosting the occasional open mic night for local musicians. But, thanks to the no-nonsense main character—and her tendency to transform into what she calls the Redheaded She-Devil—this isn’t just another fluffy whodunit. Juliet is just the right blend of tough and vulnerable. She may be quick to speak her mind and daring enough to storm into dangerous situations—especially if it’ll help clear her name. She may sometimes find herself in awkward (and outrageously funny) positions. But she’s still recovering from her fiancé’s betrayal and the debilitating stage fright that cut her music career short—and that gives her plenty of humanity to go with the humor.

Juliet is surrounded by interesting characters—characters that will make the series both endearing and entertaining, like her boss’s outspoken (and wildly inappropriate) grandma, Gertie. And Juliet’s relationship with her best friend and new boss, Pete, is complicated at best. While she attempts to figure out her feelings for Pete, she also meets a handsome stranger who claims to be teaching film studies at the local university. The three of them—along with Pete’s thoroughly unpleasant girlfriend, Cecilia—give the book plenty of romantic tension, which is sure to continue in future installments.

This first Java Jive mystery follows Juliet from seedy bars to outrageous funerals, picking up more eccentric characters with each new chapter. If you love quirky cozy mysteries, you won’t want to miss this series debut.

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