When the going gets stressful, the stressed find a fun book to read. I’ve been drinking way too much coffee to get through the day, so it was just natural that I would find On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle. The mystery is the first book in the Coffeehouse Mystery Series. The novel is as much about coffee as it is about a mysterious accident. Inspired by the book, yesterday I drank my first espresso since my college days. And, wired but very happy, I finished reading the novel.
Part of the fun of beginning to read any new series is meeting new friends. The main character is Clare Cosi, who has recently agreed to again manage The Village Blend, an over hundred year old coffeehouse that she left years ago. Madame, the owner, happens to be her ex-mother-in-law. As part of Clare’s contract, she is to be given the use of the apartment above the coffeehouse. She soon finds that her ex-husband Matt, a coffee buyer, is also to have use of the apartment when he is in the city. It would seem Madame’s motives are not totally pure. Clare's living companion is a cat, Java, who earned his name partially because of the color of his fur and partially because of his temperament. Clare and Matt have one daughter, Joy, who is in culinary school. The lead detective on the case in On What Grounds is Quinn, whom Clare feels compelled to rehabilitate from his life-long habit of bad coffee.
As for the plot of On What Grounds, after moving yet more of her belongings to the apartment above the coffeehouse, Clare finds the assistant manager, an aspiring dancer, lying unconscious on the floor of the coffeehouse. Is it a tragic accident or is it something more? Clare, with the help of her ex-husband, attempts to find out the truth.
At time the plot seemed to be only a convenient excuse to introduce interesting characters and educate the reader about coffee. But, the novel ended up in fine mystery fashion, with the appropriate plot twists. The digressions didn't take away from my enjoyment of the novel, and I feel fortunate to have found a new mystery series to take me away from the drama of my own life.