LIVE AND LET GRIND by Tara Lush
SERIES: A Coffee Lover’s Mystery #3
GENRE: Cozy Mystery
PUBLISHER: Crooked Lane
RELEASE DATE: October 11, 2022
Devil’s Beach is percolating with a hot murder case, and reporter-turned-barista Lana Lewis could be the next to get beaned in Tara Lush’s third Coffee Lover’s mystery, perfect for fans of Cleo Coyle and Lucy Burdette.
Laid-off journalist Lana Lewis is thriving as the proprietor of Perkatory, a coffee shop on quirky Devil’s Beach island, Florida. She’s juggling a relationship with police chief Noah Garcia, enjoying the company of her best friend, Erica, and relishing the companionship of her golden Shih Tzu, Stanley. Only problem is her neighbor, Gus, who incessantly uses his leaf blower, disturbing everyone in the neighborhood. Lana has learned to tune it out, but Erica’s rage boils over and she confronts Gus.
Then Gus is found dead, killed when his leaf blower explodes. Erica immediately becomes suspect number one. But there are plenty of other candidates as well: Gus’s soon-to-be ex-wife, Honey Bailey, who thinks she’ll be written out of his will; Mickey Dotson and Doug Beck, who were scalded financially after purchasing a pirate-themed tourist cruise business from Gus; and plenty of angry neighbors who’ve had run-ins with him.
As the clock ticks down will Lana get someone to spill the beans on the killer so she can clear her friend’s name, or will Erica go to jail for a crime she didn’t commit?
Other Books In This Series
I really enjoy spending time with Lana Lewis and her circle of friends and family in Tara Lush’s Coffee Lover’s Mystery series. Even though I don’t care for coffee at all, I still love the vibes of a local coffee shop, and Lana & Erica seem like fun baristas to hang out with, whether sleuthing is afoot or not. Not to mention Lana’s hoot of a hippie father and her adorable dog.
I normally find the descriptions of the protagonist’s craft or hobby or profession a bit tedious in cozy mysteries (I know, I know – it’s part of the formula) but that’s not the case in this series for me. The author seamlessly weaves the process of making all the fancy coffee drinks into the natural flow of the story, and I was particularly intrigued by the new drinks they were introducing in this book. It’s also not often that I get to read books set in Florida in the winter so it was fun to do so with Live and Let Grind, especially when poor Lana (and me, by reading-empathy-default) had to endure the awful Florida heat & humidity in the previous book.
The mystery in Live and Let Grind is full of unique elements that kept me turning the pages to see what in the world would happen next. From a pirate drinking cruise (yes, you read that right) to monkey protests, disco roller skating, and the mob, there’s a little bit of crazy around every turn in this book. It certainly kept Lana on her investigative toes, her amateur sleuthing made more complicated by her romance with the local police chief. But this case is personal so she does what she has to do, making for some comical moments and some swoony ones too. I appreciated that, even with all the unbelievable-in-any-other-context things going on, they all seemed to make “of course that happened” sense under this author’s story-crafting skills.
Bottom Line: Death by leaf-blower. Poisoned by mushroom coffee. Disco skating lessons. Coffee trainers. Wild monkeys. It’s never a dull moment around Lana Lewis and her Perkatory coffee shop, and Live and Let Grind is no exception. Quirky characters, a clever plot, an engaging writing voice, smart wit, and a dash of romance keep you turning the pages and, in this third installment of Tara Lush’s caffeinated series, you’ll be even more invested in solving the crime than in the previous books. A great read from start to finish!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4 stars / loved it!
Reviewer’s Note: Readers of this blog may want to be aware that there is some mild & infrequent cursing in this novel.
Tara Lush is a Rita Award finalist, an Amtrak writing fellow, and a George C. Polk Award winning journalist. For the past decade, she’s been a reporter with the Associated Press, covering crime, alligators, natural disasters, and politics. She also writes contemporary romance set in tropical locations. A fan of vintage pulp-fiction book covers, Sinatra-era jazz, and 1980s fashion, she lives with her husband and two dogs on the Gulf coast.
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