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Coffeehouse Mystery #1

On What Grounds

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Introducing a delightful new series featuring Clare Cosi, manager of the historic Village Blend coffeehouse...

Clare arrives at work to discover the assistant manager dead in the back of the store, coffee grounds strewn everywhere. Two detectives investigate. But when they find no sign of forced entry or foul play, they deem it an accident. Still, Clare is not convinced. And after the police leave, Clare can't help wondering...If this was an act of murder, is she in danger?

275 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published September 1, 2003

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About the author

Cleo Coyle

44 books3,172 followers
Join Cleo's Coffee Club for bonus recipes and giveaways: Click Here to Subscribe to Cleo’s Free Newsletter

CLEO COYLE is the New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestselling pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini. With more than 1 million books sold, they have gained an enthusiastic following. Cleo's "relenlessly entertaining" (Criminal Element) novels have earned starred reviews from Library Journal and Kirkus, Best of Year selection honors from multiple reviewers, and have been recommended by Booklist and Library Journal as among the best cozy mysteries for core library mystery collections.

When not haunting coffeehouses, hunting ghosts, or wrangling their rescue cats, Alice and Marc are New York Times bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for Lucasfilm, NBC, Fox, Disney, Imagine, Toho, and MGM. One of those projects (ghostwritten by Alice Alfonsi) was named by Entertainment Weekly as the best media tie-in book written that year.

CONNECT WITH CLEO at CleoCoyle.com and CoffeehouseMystery.com


Cleo’s Coffeehouse Mystery series, celebrated for pioneering both the “urban cozy" and “coffee cozy” mystery genres, follows the adventures of amateur sleuth Clare Cosi, a single mom with a complicated love life who manages a Greenwich Village coffeehouse and a quirky crew of baristas while helping the NYPD solve perplexing crimes.

Cleo’s Haunted Bookshop Mystery series, hailed as a highly original and "utterly charming" (Mystery Scene) blend of cozy and hardboiled genres, features an earnest young New England widow who catches criminals with the help of a gumshoe ghost, the irresistible spirit of a tough private detective who’d been gunned down in her bookshop decades before.


Look for HONEY ROASTED #19 in Cleo Coyle's long-running Coffeehouse Mystery series, and praised by Kirkus as "A honey of a tale." And coming November 2023 is Cleo's 20th Coffeehouse title BULLETPROOF BARISTA .

Don't miss Cleo's latest Haunted Bookshop Mystery releases, including #8 in the series THE GHOST AND THE STOLEN TEARS praised by Kirkus as "A GEM OF A STORY." And just released this May 2023 is Cleo's 9th Haunted Bookshop mystery "A DELIGHTFUL TALE" (Kirkus) full of good humor and good fun and now a #1 category bestseller for Amazon: THE GHOST GOES TO THE DOGS .

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5 stars
3,826 (23%)
4 stars
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3 stars
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409 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,729 reviews
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
December 10, 2020
First off, such a freaking brilliant title.

Second off, I loved the concept. Coffee themed murders? Yes. Count me in.

Third off, I think I liked the title more than the actual book.

Clare Cosi, the manager of the historic Village Blend coffeehouse, is in a bit of a complicated situation.

There's all the normal stuff - she's working under her ex-mother-in-law (whom she adores) but is sharing a duplex with her husband (whom she doesn't adore) due to her ex-mother-in-law's meddling.

And then there's all the not-so-normal-stuff - like the attempted murder on her assistant manager. The cops thinks it's an accident but she knows differently - and one way or another, she will prove it.

I loved the premise - coffee, murder and mayhem.

I adore the way the characters talked about coffee.
Coffee makes a sad man cheerful, a languorous man active, a cold man warm, a warm man glowing.
But the actual murder-sleuthing left something to be desired.

Clare's sleuthing was just so-over-the-top and painfully awkward. She abides by the whole whole blurt-out-random-questions-and-conveniently-gets-all-the-right-right-answers.

And the mayhem mostly consisted of Clare A) thinking about her "pillowy chest," B) conflicting thoughts about her hawt ex-husband is or C) day dreaming about the equally hot cop. Someone throw this woman in a cold shower.

So, it's not that the book was terrible per say...It just felt like it was trying too hard.

The Finer Books Club 2018 Reading Challenge - A book with a pun in the title

Audiobook Comments
Read by Rebecca Gibel. Much like the actual text...the audio felt like it was trying too hard. Every character had such exaggerated inflections (a pet peeve of mine). I.e. the New York Coppers were just so very Nue Yahk as they drank their cawfee and tawked abou murdahhh. *shudders*

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
37 reviews4 followers
July 12, 2008
I'm sorry but these books are mochas for the mind [yes, I DID write that!] and I LOVE them for the total frothy foam brain-fluff that they are. (OK, seriously. I'm done).
Profile Image for PamG.
884 reviews540 followers
September 26, 2020
ON WHAT GROUNDS by Cleo Coyle is the first book in the Coffeehouse cozy mysteries series and takes place in New York City. Clare Cosi is back to manage the historic Village Blend Coffeehouse once again. Ten years ago, she decided to move out of the city to raise her daughter in the suburbs. This time the owner has enticed her back with the promise of a rent-free apartment above the coffeehouse and partial ownership. When returning to the Village Blend, Cleo finds the assistant manager severely injured at the bottom of the basement steps. What happened to her? Did she trip and fall or was it something more sinister?

There was some humor sprinkled throughout the book, but I did not connect with any of the characters. There is a very slow start, very little action, all kinds of information about coffee, and a weak protagonist. The characters did not always act in a plausible, realistic, or even over the top believable way. However, the last 75 or so pages are definitely better than the first 200.

Overall, this was a read that did not live up to my expectations. It was an okay read for me. 1.5 stars rounded up to 2 stars. I don’t plan on continuing the series. However, there are many reviewers that thoroughly enjoyed the book.
Profile Image for Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*.
2,473 reviews1,086 followers
February 13, 2017
"Okay, I'm sorry, but decaf drinkers annoy me."

It's fun in a "cozy mystery" sort of way to read these books dedicated to drinks, foods, or hobbies. I'm a latte girl myself and thought a fun coffee shop series sounded delish enough to try. I can already tell by this first book that I'll be continuing with this long-running series for awhile.

Some mysteries seem focused on themes without teaching the reader much about the subject, but that's certainly not the case here. It almost was too textbookish for the first half, as the author paused from the story as the main character mentally filled in techniques, different equipment, and coffee bean jargon for the discerning learner. It's clear she has passionate opinions about the right coffee techniques and how important it is to pay attention to pretty much everything when it comes to making a stellar cup of java.

I liked the tips - really - but it was a little too much for awhile. Finally that dies down some to let the story shine over the coffee, only keeping quips to show the character's personality and tendency to overdo coffee lore to anyone who dares ask her a question or make a compliment.

Example writing of this -

"(The thing to remember when adding sugar is to use white granulated- it disolves much faster and smoother than cubes or brown sugar.)

Some of my customers even add a bit of frothed milk, but this version of espresso "stained" with a bit of milk is technically called a caffe macchiato (machia being Italian for stain, spot, or speckle."

The main lure - besides that fragrant smell of coffee described so well it makes me crave a cup myself - is the small and intimate cozy scene of the well-known coffee shop, staffed by quirky characters who come across as convincingly but enjoyably flawed and eccentric.

It came alive and flourished under the writer's technique. Cleo Coyle may write matter-of-factly when it comes to coffee bean know-how, but she puts humor convincingly in her sentences when she's whipping up comedic scenes, tension, or amateur snooping.

I'm not sure how the character can convincingly keep running into murder victims to where it makes sense and doesn't come across as too outlandish...but for this introduction book, it fit. The murder connection was realistic enough to work (for most of the book they questioned whether it was a murder at all!), and there's plenty of incentive for her to do some investigating.

The beginning is a little dry but the middle sublime with a darker ending wrap-up on the last page. Recommended for cozy fans or coffee slurpers.

The end of the book has a generous amount of recipes, food and coffee-related.
Profile Image for Jo Anne B.
235 reviews18 followers
August 25, 2011
Disappointed. I thought from the title that this would be a clever, comedic, fun, fast-paced read. Instead it tried too hard, had all the cliches, unlikeable characters, wasn't well-written, and it was insulting. The main character's initials were the same as the author's (despite that being a pen name). In the book, a dance studio owner said that when one of her dancers was nude dancing, she was debasing herself to a lower crowd of people. Hmmm, I think she could have said authors do that too when they use such self-absorbed tactics in their writing.

Clare, the main character, didn't really seem to fit her character. I attribute this to lack of character development, description, and depth due to poor writing. I feel like I have to defend the character, like it wasn't her fault. It is just hard to bond to a character when you only catch fleeting glimpses of who they really are. 

The storyline of Clare's ex- mother-in-law wanting her to take over part ownership of her coffeeshop was not believeable. Also, giving her a million dollar duplex in Manhatten to live in as part of the deal was far-fetched as well.

I also did not believe that what drove Clare to prove that her employee's accident was really a murder was because Clare had a daughter nearly the same age. Clare did not come across as motherly or loving. 

It also was not believeable that Clare and her ex-husband found out all the secrets a woman under suspicion had by reading all of her documents, emails, and chats in chat rooms on her laptop in a Hotel room within 5 minutes. 

Clare divorced her husband of 10 years in a note because he was always away from home buying coffee beans and doing who knows what. But, all of a sudden, she thinks he has changed (no proof offered or attempt to support this with any reasoning) and lapses with him. 

The author tried too hard to link everything in life and every lesson to making the perfect cup of joe. The cat's name was Java. Enough said there.

This could have been a better book. It would have been better to have skipped this and had a good cup of fresh brewed coffee. 
Profile Image for Erin L.
988 reviews40 followers
March 14, 2011
Yet another book that I wanted to like, but ultimately couldn't. I love cozy mysteries, but I wouldn't consider this a cozy mystery. Sure, there's a mystery buried in there somewhere. But I couldn't get past the coffee info-dump to get to the mystery. And it truly is an info-dump. As Clare is being interviewed about the accident, she's off on a tangent in her head about coffee and storing coffee and preparing coffee and waxing poetic about how she'll convert some coffee drinker to really, really good coffee because she's the coffee queen. No really. She makes Greek coffee as good as a Greek mother would, even though she's (gasp!) not Greek!

Also, in the middle of the above she tells us all about her life in suburbia, why she moved back to the coffee shop and back to New York. It seems that the Prologue (completely pointless) would've been better served giving us that information rather than telling us that the assistant manager really was murdered and it wasn't just an accident. You know, keep some of the meagre amount of mystery offered.

She also displays her amazing detecting abilities while being questioned by the homicide detective. Really? No. Really?? You've just sent your employee away in an ambulance. And all you can think about is coffee and the homicide detectives children? Who appear to be spoiled rotten if they grab at Daddy's coat pocket with chocolate covered fingers EVERY night when he gets home. Give me a break.

And finally, (oddly enough) the prologue. Pointless.

Also, the whole love triangle thing? I'm over it. There are other, better ways to create conflict. Especially when dealing with murder and mayhem.
May 16, 2020
My first thought upon finishing Cleo Coyle’s on What Grounds is, well, I guess that was OK.

I know more about coffee and high society than I ever cared to learn and have passed the last seven plus hours in a tolerable state.

I'll probably continue the series because curiosity/quarantine-induced boredom but I'm not exactly clamoring for the next installment.

For one thing, I'm not the protagonist's biggest fan and am only slightly more enthusiastic about the supporting characters.

Lies by omission and judgmental finger shaking are on my top ten list of things to hate in a book.

To continue, the repetitive, copy/pasted descriptive phrases told me immediately that I was dealing with a lazy author and an even lazier editor.

On What Grounds also suffers from a condition that is quite common among first installments, one characterized by pages upon pages of shop talk, exposition and backstory.

Something else that annoyed me was the author’s employment of mini cliffhangers.

I counted at least four times (in a book this short, four times is a lot in my opinion) where a piece of news gets delayed.

For example, Claire’s ex-husband comes in with urgent news for which we are made to wait because …reasons.

Another example is the doctor’s revelation of the victim’s condition. Again, we get to sit through pages of coffee talk and sexual tension before the secret gets revealed.

Look, I get why authors do it; this isn’t a mark of bad writing.

Still, I personally don’t like it and, when I encounter it, I either skim to the point of the revelation or check out during the suspense building period.

This is especially true if the delay is done for the sake of delaying rather than being caused by other, more important circumstances that prevent the narrator from letting us in on the news.

There are better, less irritating ways to build suspense and detangle the minor knots of a mystery; leaving me hanging mid chapter and through a time jump will almost always annoy me, especially when I have to sit through lectures on the evils of decaf drinkers, historical coffee scandals and over brewed espresso beans before finding out what was so urgent and juicy.

All in all, the best I can say for book one of the coffee shop mysteries series is that it kept me occupied, off social media and away from the news. Three stars.
Profile Image for Susan.
1,197 reviews199 followers
March 31, 2020
ON WHAT GROUNDS is the first book in the Coffeehouse mystery series. It combines two of my favorite things……coffee and mystery! Clare Cosi has just come back to manage The Village Blend coffeehouse at the request of Madame, the wonderful, loving eccentric who just so happens to also be her ex mother-in-law. This is my first time read the writing duo, Cleo Coyle but for sure, it won’t be the last. I can’t wait to dig further into this series!! That I waited so long to finally get started, really annoys me! The mystery in this story is very interesting and kept my attention. I loved the factual information about coffee and how it should be properly prepared. Yes, apparently I don’t know how to make a proper cup of coffee!😲

When Clare arrives, it’s to find the unconscious body of her assistant manager, Annabelle, lying at the bottom of the service stairs. What the police (led by delicious and sexy Detective Quinn) assume is a tragic accident seems to clearly be foul play to Clare, and she sets out, with the help of her ex husband, Matteo, to prove it. Clare must navigate her confusing feelings with her ex husband, her growing attraction to a certain sexy detective, and follow an almost non-existent trail to find a killer. Hang on readers! It’s a wild and fun ride!!

I can’t wait to read the next book in this series! I loved the information on coffee, and I really enjoyed the characters. They are all very relatable and kept me giggling! Recipes are included in the back of the book and on the author’s website. While reading ON WHAT GROUNDS, it’s clear that Clare is a coffee snob, which is kind of funny. We learn how to make a good cup of coffee, in minute detail. Coffee lovers will really love this story.

Profile Image for Lisa Kay.
924 reviews517 followers
April 27, 2013

★★★★☆ I really enjoyed this one by a “new-2-me-author.” It was well written, fast-paced, and held my attention through-out. It conveyed the ambiance of a Greenwich Village coffee house. And I learned a few things about coffee. ☺ There is the obligatory “love interest” triangle, but it wasn’t over the top and even that had a nice twist. I’ll definitely continue the series.

P.S. It also satisfied several challenges, namely CaroB’s frustrating “double-decker” – since the author’s first and last name starts with “C” – a challenge which has to be read in alphabetical order!
Profile Image for Heather G.
16 reviews2 followers
March 14, 2008
I quit reading this after two chapters - I found it completely boring and unexciting. The language used (very dry) and the way too indepth information about brewing coffee did me in. Yuck!
Profile Image for Jennifer Wardrip.
Author 5 books489 followers
November 8, 2012
I loved this first book in the fun cozy series. It combines two of my all-time favorite things -- coffee and mystery!

Clare Cosi has just come back to manage The Village Blend coffeehouse at the request of Madame, the wonderful, loving eccentric who just so happens to also be her ex mother-in-law.

When Clare arrives, it's to find the unconscious body of her assistant manager, Annabelle, lying at the bottom of the service stairs. What the police (led by hunky yet aloof Detective Quinn) assume is a tragic accident seems to clearly be foul play to Clare, and she sets out (with the help of her ex-husband, Matteo) to prove it.

I can't wait to read the next book in this series! I loved the information on coffee, and I really enjoyed the characters. This is a great read.
Profile Image for Dianne.
1,601 reviews120 followers
July 4, 2022
Although this book was written first in 2003, this series, or at least this very first book, seems to have withstood the passage of time. Some things will seem a little dated but not enough to take away from the book's pleasure.

This book does hit a few of the genre's formulaic points that make this a tad less than pleasurable to read. For one, it does delve a bit too much into the back-story or history of coffee. It is understandable since that is where this series is taking place and is an essential aspect of the book. However, the author can get a little overly enthusiastic at times and even slightly insulting in her opinions.

Secondly, at least from the perspective of this book and none of the others, the author is jumping on the multiple romantic possibilities just like many other coy authors that deal in food or drink.

The plot was well developed, and the characters, while sometimes very annoying, are not one-dimensional and seem as if the possibility of growth exists.

I wouldn't say I like the idea of Clare’s ex-mother-in-law pushing Clare and her ex together so hard. It started grating on my nerves and was very frustrating when the ex-couple had so much bad back-story.

Only time and reading of more of this series will tell me if it will be a winner. Nevertheless, so far, so good, and I will read the next one in the series.
Profile Image for Skyler Autumn.
229 reviews1,403 followers
May 9, 2018
2 stars

I preferred all the coffee jargon then everything got all murder-y and I got bored.... But it was simple read which is what I needed at the time.

Review to Come.
656 reviews5 followers
April 4, 2020
A thoroughly delightful mystery, the first in a series, set in an historic coffee house in NYC. When the new manager, Clare, discovers the body of the assistant manager crumpled at the bottom of the basement stairs, the police dismiss it as a tragic accident. Clare and NYPD Detective Mike Quinn aren’t so sure and join forces. Further complications arise when Clare’s ex-husband, and the owner’s son, returns from a coffee buying trip and takes up residence in the same apartment that Clare now lives. I actually didn’t figure out who the murderer was so it’s pretty twisty. Plus, there’s a lot of information about coffee interwoven into the story.
Profile Image for Cathy.
1,126 reviews56 followers
November 11, 2018
I loved this book!! Great characterizations, great setting and I loved how this is a bit more of a complex mystery and book than most cozies but still very much a cozy and not too heavy. I can't wait to read more!
Profile Image for Heather.
112 reviews6 followers
August 2, 2012
Book 1. Pretty sophomoric writing. Way, way, way too much how to make coffee detail and over explaining of main character's feelings. HInts at romance with detective but nothing ... Want to like this series and will try next in series but . . .

Clare Cosi used to manage the historic Village Blend coffeehouse...until she opted for quieter pastures and a more suburban life. But after ten years and a little friendly cajoling from the owner (a fresh pot of Jamaican Blue Mountain was all it took), she's back to the grind. With a sprawling rent-free apartment directly above the Village Blend, her cat Java by her side, and plenty of coffeehouse redecorating ideas, Clare is thrilled to return to work. Until she discovers the assistant manager unconscious in the back of the store, coffee grounds strewn everywhere. Police arrive on the scene to investigate. But when they find no sign of forced entry or foul play, they deem it an accident. Case closed. But Clare is not convinced. And after the police leave, there are a few things she just can't get out of her mind... Why was the trash bin in the wrong place? If this wasn't an accident, is Clare in danger? And... are all detectives this handsome?
Profile Image for Roxx Tarantini.
543 reviews4 followers
September 9, 2019
Thank you Cleo Coyle!

"I have measured out my life with coffee spoons."  T. S. Eliot

I LOVED this book!  I can't say it strongly enough, I REALLY loved it!  Complete with all the elements designed to hold me in its thrall, On What Grounds grabbed hold and didn't let go, till it was done!

Starting over, coffee, secrets, plots, not to forget coffee; and even a bit of romance and danger; it's all here!

Strong characters - I fell in love with Madame! - well written, gripping storyline, that willfully moved me through the pages.   I'm ecstatic to know there's a list of subsequent reads waiting for me!   A great read that I highly recommend!

[I received a copy of this book from the author, for an honest review of the book.   The opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.]
Profile Image for Joe Meyers.
229 reviews8 followers
February 15, 2021
Went back to the first book in this excellent traditional mystery series, set in and around a venerable Greenwich Village coffee house - the Village Blend (Think Caffe Reggio but with a second floor).
The book has all the hallmarks of the novels that followed - great New York color, well drawn Village types and a few coffee-themed recipes in the back of the book.
One of the best sections takes us to a high-powered society benefit at the Waldorf Astoria where Clare Cosi and her sexy ex, Matteo, do some clever sleuthing.
The victim is a young dancer who moonlights at the Village Blend. Clare is determined to find out if the girl’s fall down the steps to the basement was an accident or a violent assault.
Profile Image for Evan Quade.
393 reviews48 followers
June 26, 2021
As a crazed coffee drinker and an avid reader all mixed together, I have always wanted to come across a book that is actually about a coffeehouse. And here it is. It's a reader's dream come true. It follows Clare Cosi, a part-owner and full-time manager of the Village Blend, a coffee shop in the Manhattan village. This is also a mystery, so expect some crime to start brewing.

This was the ultimate cozy for me. I was able to take this to any coffeehouse I go to, and while sipping my own made coffee at home. Or even with a coffeehouse ambience video while reading it to make it like you're there. It was absolutely amazing and I am thrilled to see this in a series as I can never have too much espresso and a smell of a roasted grinding from the pages.
Profile Image for Jan.
261 reviews
February 16, 2013
118 reviews
April 25, 2017
I really enjoyed this book. The plot was interesting. The setting is the only place this book could be except maybe San Francisco. The characters unique, different and familiar at the same time. I figured out a couple parts of the mystery and can see my error in the murder solution. The coffee shop setting is so much fun for me. And every time they drank coffee I swear it brought up memories of fabulous tasting coffee so much so that I could almost taste the miraculous brew. Which means that this is some very good writing. Next trip to the library will be for #2 in this series. Got to go. I am craving a cup now.
Profile Image for Dorie  - Cats&Books :) .
1,025 reviews2,975 followers
August 20, 2017
This is the second Coffeehouse Mystery that I have listened to and I really enjoy them. When I'm listening to an audiobook I'm usually sewing, sometimes cooking or cleaning. I need something light enough that I can do two things at once but interesting enough that it will keep me involved. These mysteries fit the bill. I'm not even a coffee drinker! But if you are you will definitely love these books as there is much discussion about types of coffee, how differently they can be brewed, etc etc., it was making me crave coffee!

Well written cozy mystery!
Profile Image for muhammedallia.
285 reviews
June 15, 2018
Of all the recipe themed mysteries that I've started, this one has been my favorite thus far. Maybe because I LOVE coffee. The characters are fun and dimensional and for once the main character is into a swarthy looking short man instead of tall blond and white. I wish it weren't set in New York but I loved the authentic historic business and descriptions of antique coffee pieces and bohemian furnishings. Just a neat setting for my mind and I'll surely pick up the next one.
Profile Image for Danielle Lee.
197 reviews3 followers
April 2, 2020
What an awesome mystery series ! Usually cozy mysteries have a cute story to them . While this story was cute in ways it also was serious crime business ! There was so many funny , sarcastic anecdotes that made me laugh plus so many fun and true facts about coffee . I learned that Tasseography is the art of reading coffee grounds as a form of fortune telling ! Love this fun fact ! Awesome read
Profile Image for Dena.
220 reviews2 followers
February 6, 2017
Enjoyable mystery surrounded by coffee.
August 8, 2021
This is the most masterfully written cozy I've read so far. Has the feel of a professional writer about it, because all the elements are so expertly managed (plot, character, suspense, etc.) - the experience of the husband/wife writer team really shows.

Some aspects I like:

(1) the book, although written in the first person, dares to keep some info from the reader rather than revealing all info at the time that the protagonist learns it
(2) the book is not set in a small town, being set instead in NYC (Greenwich Village) - in fact, the authors have staked a claim to inventing this "urban cozy" genre
(3) the book starts out with a brief POV from the murderer, which is so unusual in cozies and seems like a fusion element from the thriller genre. It works beautifully and really enhances the reader's interest in solving the mystery - it also allows the reader to participate more directly in figuring out who the murderer might be
(4) the victim's fate -
(5) the plot is not completely linear, as it tends to be in cozies - there is a bit of skipping around on the timeline, which helps to heighten the suspense in the plot;
(6) the imagery here is really a step above most cozies - it is often interesting, thought-provoking, original and beautiful or funny
(7) I really enjoyed the use of humor in this book - there were some laugh-out loud funny moments (double entendre comments as well as the protagonist's first-person POV reactions to situations)
(8) the passing conversational references between the characters seem more intelligent/intellectual than the typical cozy - for instance, referring to Joseph Campbell, etc. As such this seems more high-brow and gives more intellectual satisfaction, but definitely does not shut out those who are unfamiliar with these references.
(9) This book makes an effort to add in an element of actual life philosophy, which makes it more realistic and also uplifting

Overall, this book was a great read. The only disappointment was
Profile Image for H.M.S..
Author 2 books33 followers
April 17, 2020
Read as a Nook book.

This book has been on my TBR / Want to read list since 2018 and I’m so glad I finally got around to reading it. It’s set in NYC and the main character, Clare Cosi, manages a long-standing, neighborhood coffee shop. She also lives in the apartment above it, rent-free. What a deal!

On her official move-in day, she discovers her assistant manager, Annabelle, at the bottom of the stairs and an investigation begins. While it looks like an accident, Clare insists on foul play and pushes Detective Quinn to keep the file open. While the investigation continues, Clare has discovered that her ex-Mother-in-law has also provided keys to Clare’s ex-husband, Matteo. Hmm!

As the story went on, we learned just how much of a mess she took on when she agreed to be the manager. Turns out the last manager wasn’t just bad at his job. There were a handful of side-story arcs throughout the book that flowed nicely with the overall story line of getting justice for Annabelle. The characters were terrific and the story flowed well making we want to keep turning the page. I started and finished this book the same day.

I enjoyed getting to know the other characters in the story that I’m sure I’ll see in future books such as Tucker – her ever-trusty barista, Matt – her ex-husband (They made a great team at the Waldorf, I must say!), Madame – her Mother-in-law, Joy – her daughter, Langley and Demetrios – two of NYPD’s finest, and Detective Quinn.

I definitely look forward to reading more books in this series.

Side observations:
• Clare’s upstairs apartment is referred to as a Duplex which was strange to a Midwestern girl like me who thinks of it as a house split in half. In reality, in NYC it is actually a 2-story single family apartment. (Thanks to previous reviewers for clarifying that tidbit for me!)
• For a Cozy mystery, it drops an f-bomb or two. Sure, by the bad guys, but it’s there and it didn’t detract from the story at all. Just unusual for a cozy.
• I learned a lot about coffee. Makes me appreciate it all the more despite having drunk hot tea the entire time I read this book!
Profile Image for Skye.
1,395 reviews2 followers
August 18, 2021
I love a good cozy mystery. They’re cute, fun and, although you constantly want to know “whodunnit”, you’re not scared by the end of the tale. Everything gets tied up neatly and whilst there is a little bit of danger, it’s not overwhelming and frightening. The only problem with this cozy mystery? It features coffee. And I’m pregnant, so I can’t drink all of the coffee I want to…

Clare is a fun and unique lead. Rather than being young without much attachment, she’s a middle aged woman about to start her “second life”. She’s divorced, has a grown daughter and all of the trappings and difficulties that go along with that. It provides an added complexity to the story line that is sometimes missing from some of the mysteries that I read. It’s dark and wonderfully twisted. Seriously fun and very difficult to walk away from. I absolutely adored Clare as a lead. She is sassy and has a wealth of past experiences to draw upon.

This is a brilliant start to a new series. One that I can’t wait to fill my shelves with. It is fun and entertaining, filled with slightly eccentric characters and a number of potential love interests. I am really hoping that Clare picks Quinn ultimately, but I also know that Matteo is going to throw more than one spanner in the works for the chances of this budding relationship. Partner in Clare’s tight relationship with her daughter, the constant coffee recipes and just general food mentions… and I don’t recommend reading this on an empty stomach. I do recommend completely diving into this with a nice, big cup of coffee though.

I absolutely adored this story. I loved the slow unveiling of Annabelle’s past and the hints at who could have killed her. There are plenty of red herrings, and a couple of different horrors waiting at the end of the literary rainbow. This was a brilliant cozy mystery and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into more of Clare’s adventures.
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1,223 reviews30 followers
October 3, 2015
This is me writing this review for a second time because I accidentally erased it. It's not as good as my first one, but I hope everyone enjoys it anyway.

Published in 2003, 'On What Grounds' is the first book in the Coffeehouse mystery series. Clare Cosi is a 39 year old single mother who returns to Ne York to manage the Village Blend, a coffeehouse she formerly use to work at before leaving for New Jersey ten years prior after divorcing her husband. Arriving at work one morning, she notices the door is locked, coffee beans on the ground and the lights on. She knows something's amiss. She finds her barista yet recently turned assistant manager on the ground. Officers Langley and Demetrios and Detective Quinn arrive on the scene. While making them coffee, Clare hears footsteps upstairs and assumes its the attacker. But it turns out to be her ex husband Matt Allergo who was offered the same contract by Madame, who is not only the owner of the Village Blend but also Matt's mother. Clare knows something isn't right about the way she found Annabelle. It was not an accident. And if the cops won't help her figure out what really happened, she'll find out the truth on her own.

Now I must admit this was a different read for me. Most cozy mysteries I read the main characters is in the 20's and have yet to married. It was refreshing to read something different and to have the main character be a mother too. There were a lot of twist and turns in this book, and I was waay off on her the murderer was.

I am going to be ordering the second book from my library soon.
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