Saturday, January 9, 2010

From the Grounds Up-Sandra Balzo

From the Grounds Up
Sandra Balzo
Severn House, Mar 1 2010, $27.95
ISBN: 9780727868305

With the economy already hurting her Uncommon Grounds coffee shop, Maggy Thorsen is in disbelief when the freak May blizzard hammers Brookhills, Wisconsin destroying her store. Her caustic friend realtor Sarah Kingston takes her to the train station where a bistro was just closed and a commuter line to and from Milwaukee is to open. Sarah owns the depot inheriting half when her dad died years ago and the rest last week when Aunt Vi passed away. She offers a business partnership, which Maggy accepts.

Aunt Vi’s husband Kornell Eisvogel arrives at the depot to hassle with Sarah. He sees the time on the depot clock so leaves as he must drive in daylight. However, the two women hear the train and crunch. They rush out to see that Kornell is dead. Maggy’s boyfriend Sheriff Jack Pavlik leads the inquiry and learns the clock was switched and the victim’s car tampered to stall on the tracks. When the two partners go to Brookhills Manor to pick up Vi’s stuff, they are almost run over by Klepto Clara and her hot rod wheelchair. As they leave the women find Clara dead and Pavlik questioning them again. Someone is killing people associated with the depot, but whom and why remains darker than Maggy’s strongest brew.

The latest Uncommon Grounds amateur sleuth (see Bean There, Done That and Grounds for Murder) is the usual terrific tale as the sheriff, his subordinates and readers know that wherever Maggy goes a corpse is bound to precede her. The lighthearted story line is fast-paced and breezy as Sarah provides humor with her in your face veracity and a killer wants to grind Maggy’s coffee shop to the ground. Fans will enjoy this fine flavored brew, as Maggy, murder, and mayhem meet in the Brookhills Train Station.

Harriet Klausner