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A Cup of Jo Review

Maggy Thorsen and Sarah Kingston are hosting the grand opening of their gourmet coffee house, Uncommon Grounds. As original owner, Maggie has seen her share of murders since the opening at her previous location. After the first location burned to the ground, she relocated to the old train depot bringing her longtime friend in as co-owner.

As of today, a regular commuter train will connect their business to downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on the shores of Lake Michigan 15 miles to the East. The dedication of the new rail line will be held on the Milwaukee end, and then the local county dignitaries will ride the rails to celebrate the grand opening of Uncommon Grounds at the Brookhills Junction location.

As the gals prepare for the arrival of the speakers, press, and guests, they question why their events planner JoLynn Penn-Williams hired an obnoxious mime for the opening. They are also watching as JoLynn’s husband inflates a huge advertising balloon in the shape of a coffee cup with streamers of “steam” ten feet above the boarding platform where the speakers are to gather.

Just as the train arrives and the dignitaries descend, the hapless mime trips over the air hose, the inflated cup and saucer shivers, and Sarah tries to grab and save the inflated prop as it comes crashing to the ground. As a hundred people watch the public relations nightmare unfold, Maggy finds her missing Brookhills event planner lying in the bottom of the deflated cup.

A Cup of Jo is the sixth offering in author Sandra Balzo’s Maggy Thorsen Mystery Series. The author writes with an enjoyable sass and wit that makes her stories fun to read. The eccentric characters and entertaining story lines create a cozy mystery series fans have learned to relish.

There is never a dull moment at the coffee house or in the lives of its customers and crew. Each character is fleshed out enough to show their eccentricity allowing the plot to move forward to the inevitable reveal. Balzo wisely protects the reveal until the end, cleverly keeping readers guessing as to who committed the crime and why.

By using several recurring characters throughout the series, Balzo has developed a family of sorts that keeps returning readers fulfilled while new characters keep the stories fresh.

While each book ably stands on its own, new readers may consider picking up the first book, Uncommon Grounds, and reading the series in order. Maggy Thorsen fans undoubtedly will look forward to the next installment to see what the endearing business owner is up to next.

A special thank you goes to Sandra Balzo and Severn House for providing a complimentary copy of A Cup of Jo for review. You can find the Maggy Thorsen gourmet coffeehouse mystery series at Amazon.com.

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