Brew or Die (Java Jive #4) Review
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In the first three books in author Caroline Fardig’s Java Jive series, Nashville coffeehouse manager Juliet Langley investigated one mystery after another in a completely unofficial capacity. But now, for the fourth installment, Brew or Die, she makes her sleuthing official—but that doesn’t make it any less deadly.

The story catches up with Juliet as she takes on a second job as a private investigator—much to the dismay of her best friend and boss, Pete Bennett. Juliet assures him that it’ll be easy; instead of getting into trouble as an amateur sleuth, she’ll be tailing cheating spouses. But then she’s hired to investigate some shady business dealings at a nearby factory—and, as if that weren’t enough to keep her busy, Pete decides to take on some amateur sleuthing, too, when their barista’s fiancée dies a suspicious death. And suddenly Juliet and Pete are both in over their heads.

With each new book in the Java Jive series, the author piles on a little more mystery, a little more danger, and a little more romantic tension. There’s definitely a lot going on here: Juliet’s corporate investigation as a private investigator, her murder investigation on the side, and her growing relationship drama with the various men in her life. At times, it feels chaotic and overstuffed. And perhaps the most baffling mystery here is how she juggles two investigations and her job running the coffeehouse (not to mention a boyfriend, a would-be boyfriend, and an ex-boyfriend who seems to lurk around every corner)—though I would assume that there’s a whole lot of espresso involved.

Despite the extra caffeine, though, Juliet’s fiery personality has cooled down a bit—due, apparently, to the reduced conflict in her relationship with laidback cop John Stafford. At times, readers may miss the fire as much as her friends do—but while the main character’s personality may not be as strong this time around, the story is messy enough to make up for it.

Still, in the midst of the mess—the shootings and kidnappings and black-tie events—some of the best aspects of the series get lost. And there are aspects of Juliet’s cases that seem out of character or simply too convenient. But, in the end, the chaos and the quirky characters (both new and returning) also add to the excitement.

Brew or Die may not be the kind of relaxing read that will help you unwind after a long day of work, but it’s still a fun-filled cozy mystery. It’s perfectly paired with an extra-large coffee at your favorite coffee shop.

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