Former musician Juliet Langley has barely had a day off since taking over management of the coffeehouse owned by her best friend, Pete Bennett. But there’s always more to be done—such as prepping for the annual Holiday 5K Race organized by Pete’s snobby socialite girlfriend, Cecilia Hollingsworth. This year, Java Jive has a booth right at the finish line, and since Juliet and Cecilia don’t always see eye to eye, everything has to be perfect. Nothing can go wrong. Nothing . . . like Juliet stumbling over Cecilia’s dead body on the morning of the race.
When Pete is arrested for Cecilia’s murder, Juliet sets out to clear his name. She’ll do whatever it takes—even if it means standing up to the police, her ex-boyfriend, and the grande dames of Nashville. But there isn’t enough espresso in the world for the greatest challenge in her path: infiltrating Nashville’s high society to uncover the hidden hotbed of scandal without running afoul of the law herself. With her last dime staked on Pete’s bail bond and her staff growing jittery, the last thing Juliet needs is for her trademark temper to land her behind bars. As time drips away, Juliet needs to crack this case before the killer comes back for another shot.
When we last left Juliet, the police had finally cleared her of Stan’s murder and her love life was in a bit of shambles. I was a bit surprised to find that while some things had changed, some things had gone back to exactly how they were in Death Before Decaf. Pete is still going back and forth about his relationship with the hateful cow, Cecilia. But at least Juliet seems to have started to move on from her devastating fling with the dishonest (but smoking hot Ryder) and her long time crush of Pete… or maybe not.
One of the things I loved about the previous book was that it had a few slapstick humor moments. Fortunately, while the book didn’t offer any of those kinds of moments, the ease and humor that radiated between Jules and Pete still exist. However, what this book does carry in spades in the beginning, is drama. Juliet has begun “seeing” Cecilia’s cute little brother, Stan and to say she and her family are less than impressed is an understatement. Even worse, Cecilia’s usually catty behavior escalates to a new high as she takes to calling Juliet a gold digging skank. So when she winds up dead in the Java Jive’s tent just before a fundraiser 5k, I was more than appreciative to see her go.
The pacing of this book is quick and yet, it never feels rushed. While some of the ways in which Jules discovers more evidence as to who might be the murderer may come off as a bit absurd, it helped with making this an intriguing and entertaining cozy mystery. Even though I have no interest in the love triangle between Pete, Juliet and Ryder, it was nice to see Ryder using his position as a cop to help find out information about Pete for Juliet as well as to help keep a protective eye on Pete. Of course, this is primarily just because both men believe the new man in Juliet’s life, Stan, is guilty of the murder.
As for the actual murder, I joking thought to myself, what if so-and-so was the killer right after Juliet discovered the body. But with the exception of one or two discoveries (much later on in the book) by Jules before the final showdown, I’ll admit I never really suspected the person who was responsible for Cecilia’s murder. This is always a great thing, because I have never been fond of being able to figure out a story a few chapters into the book. Granted, my initial guess was right on the mark, but I dare to say the murderer was blatantly obvious and the author did a great job allowing a bunch of little things add up so you can have that “Aha!” moment.
Overall this is a fun and entertaining cozy mystery and I can’t wait to see what kind of trouble Juliet can get herself into next!
Reviewer’s note: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.