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Uncommon Grounds

(Maggy Thorsen Mystery #1)

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  925 ratings  ·  148 reviews
Patricia Harper is dead, killed by a hot-wired espresso machine, in Uncommon Grounds, her very own gourmet coffee store! Maggy Thorsen wants to know who killed one of her partners. Maggy needs the store to succeed. Starting over after her divorce, she's quit her PR job to open the coffee store. And if things aren't already tough enough, she begins to suspect one of her fri ...more
Hardcover, 245 pages
Published November 1st 2004 by Five Star (ME) (first published 2004)
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Average rating 3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  925 ratings  ·  148 reviews

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Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*
There's something fun about coffee shop and tea house cozy mysteries. This first book in a new-to-me series didn't disappoint. It was cute, funny, intriguing enough to work - will check out more of the series when I get a chance.

Maggy Thorsen and two associates open a new coffee shop business, but the day of the opening is delayed with one of them is found dead next to the latte machine. The three aren't close friends, but they had set plans that are compromised by one of them being knocked off.
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Uncommon Grounds has been on my TBR list for quite awhile. I thought I would like it but I liked it even more than I thought I would. Maggy Thorsen is starting a new coffee shop business with two friends. On opening day, one of the partners is discovered dead on the floor by the expresso machine. Maggy becomes involved in solving the murder. Her livelihood depends on keeping the Uncommon Grounds open as she is starting over. She is in her forties and recently divorced. Her dentist husband took u ...more
Actually loved this one, too. So far this year's been two for two! ...more
Ivonne Rovira
Dec 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ivonne by: the website StopYou'reKillingMe
Maggy Thorsen spells her name unusually. But that's not the only unusual thing about her. Although a bit bitter about her impending divorce, she doesn’t let that cloud her judgment — or her curiosity and sense of fair play — and sense of humor. How could you not love a woman who calls the choice between two witnesses shocked by a terrible death “[t]the lesser of two feebles”? Ya gotta love her!

Forty-two-year-old Maggy was living the suburban dream in the fictional small town of Brookhills, Wisco
Sep 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#1 Maggy Thorsen mystery set in Brookhills, Wisconsin. Maggy and her business partners Caron and Patricia are set to open their new coffee shop, Uncommon Grounds, in a strip mall in suburban Brookhills. Maggy, late on her first day, opens the door only to find Patricia collapsed on the floor, a pitcher of milk spilled around her. At first it appears to be some sort of natural event but it's later determined that the espresso machine was interfered with and that Patricia was deliberately electroc ...more
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Maria by: Nancy Roessner
Shelves: murder-mystery
I got this free on Kindle. I really liked this book, about a group of friends who open a coffee shop and on the morning of the grand opening, one of the partners is found dead at her post. What follows is a pretty good whodunit that kept me guessing almost to the end. The story is filled with good character development (although the plethora of names kept me confused most of the time, I chalk that up to my own mental deficiencies!), the humor was not forced and at times chuckle-worthy.

I would ha
In the interest of full disclosure I confess that I was predisposed to like this book. I recently had the good fortune to have Ms. Balzo as a seat mate on a flight from Atlanta to Harrisburg, and after our interesting conversation I made up my mind to try this series.

That being said, it has been a very long time (read as: years) since I enjoyed a series of this nature. I don't know if my taste has changed or if I have made poor sampling choices. So while I really wanted to like the book, I wasn'
Jan 09, 2015 rated it liked it
★★★☆☆Interesting and humorous. Would've given 4* but for foul language throughout, which detracted from main characters', otherwise, comely traits. (no F-bombs) and Christians are, again, the bad guys. TTS-enabled eBook ©2004 ...more
The murder of one partner in Maggy's new coffe house on opening day almost makes it closing day. Good cozy with small town politics, Peyton Place values and a brooding sheriff. 3.5 stars ...more
Victoria Allman
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I must say, I read a lot of mysteries and usually have an inkling of who-dun-it or my suspicions al least. With Uncommon Grounds, I had no idea until the last chapter who had killed Patricia Harper on opening day of her coffeeshop. And to an avid reader, that makes this book a winner.

I was thoroughly engrossed in the story of Maggie Thorsten, co-owner of Uncommon Grounds and suspect in the murder, and the town of Brookhills. It is easy to see why this first book in the series was nominated for a
Linda Smatzny
Aug 30, 2013 rated it liked it
This is the first book in the Maggy Thorsen Series. The main character is Maggy Thorsen who is in the process of getting a divorce. She and her two partners are opening a gourmet coffee store. On opening day one of the partners is murdered. Of course another murder follows and Maggy is right in the middle of everything. Premise is classic cozy but the supporting cast is a bit unusual.
First Balzo book I have read, well listened to and it was what I would call a cozy mystery. Not bad for a mystery, keep me interested the entire book and I loved the twist to the plot. Took me a minute to figure it out and when I did I was shocked. Anyway, don't want to give anything away but this is a really quick easy read if you are looking for that. ...more
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wow, that was . . . terrible. It was going along in a kind of standard cozy mystery way, until about 3/4 of the way through, when it took an extremely unexpected turn and got really weird. Not quite "aliens did it" weird, but still. Actually, aliens would've been better. ...more
✨ Gramy ✨
Each book contains a cozy mystery, entertainment, and a sensible woman sleuth.

I find that I enjoy this series alot. I also appreciate that each book can stand on its own and they deliver an HEA.
Chris Conley
Aug 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a delight of twists, turns and caffeine. Lots pf caffeine. Maggy's new business has brought many changes into her life. I am looking forward to the rest of this series. ...more
Book Concierge
2.5** (rounded up)

Maggy Thorsen has left her career as a PR executive, and, following a traumatic divorce, has decided to open a gourmet coffee shop in her suburban Wisconsin village, along with two of her best friends. But on opening day, Patricia Harper, is found dead – electrocuted by a hot-wired espresso machine. Maggy is a suspect, as she seems to have been the last person in the shop with an opportunity to sabotage the machine. So, she’s determined to find out who killed her friend and par
Mary Ann
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Best murder mystery of the year, and I should know!
Though I’m not a murder mystery reading regular, I plowed through a fair share of them this year as I researched how to write my own murder mystery. I was beginning to think they are either a less interesting version of life in a town called Mayberry or laden with too many wandering plot lines to hold my interest.

Sandra Balzo’s Uncommon Grounds broke the mould and put the mojo back in my murder mystery intrigue! The murder happens right away and
Charlotte Ehney
Aug 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Maggy Thorsen's old life is over. Her dentist husband left her for a younger hygienist in his office. She has moved into a small house in a less prestigious part of town. Now she is focused on her new business, Uncommon Grounds, a coffee shop. Only on opening day, one of her partners is lying dead on the store's floor and she finds herself as a suspect under the sharp gaze of the new sheriff. Maggy is determined to prove her innocence which means she may have to track down the killer herself.

Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
Challenges: Steeped in Books/Stacking the Series - Level 7f/Book 1; March Mystery Madness/Book Bingo - Page count divisible by 5 (245); MMM Cover Scavenger Hunt: Baked goods (4, croissants), beverage (19, coffee), corpse (23, on floor), weapon (25, must read the story). This series takes place in Wisconsin in an exurb not far from Milwaukee, part of my goal to read books set in that state. The mystery takes the idea of 'you never really know the people in your life' to a new level. So if that we ...more
Jan 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery
I enjoyed it.
It lends itself well to a time when you can sit down and devour a book in one (or a couple) big chunks. Mystery is not my go-to genre so it always feel fresh and interesting when I dive in. The characters were developed enough that I didn't have trouble keeping them apart.

It says it's set in Wisconsin, but aside from a few references to Milwaukee it could be set in any little suburb in the Midwest. That's not a bad thing, I actually liked that it was just a small-town feel.

It was f
Nov 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Uncommon Grounds (Maggy Thorsen Mystery #1) by Sandra Balzo

Maggy Thorsen is opening a Coffee shop, until (her partner) Patricia ends up dead. Maggie begins to investigate, it seems everyone has something to hide, and there are many suspects. The deeper she digs the more secrets are revealed, and Maggy is in danger.

A fast paced cozy murder mystery, set in a small town in Wisconsin, where everyone knows each other. The suspect list grows, with twits and turns and secrets revealed. The characters a
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
T. Rose
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fun cozy Wisconsin mystery!

This cozy mystery was a good read! I really liked it. I am really looking forward to reading the next book in the series. The characters actually seemed like small town folk. I thought Maggy had a good sense of humor and I laughed out loud quite a few times and cheered her on in her amateur investigation. She's witty, but impulsive. There were a bunch of twists and turns that caught me by surprise. Good read for a weekend!
Gary L Lavalleur
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great fun, I love main characters who have a wry sense of humor, and are a bit snarky!

I read books whose "voice" appeals to me. Sandra Balzo's writing has that. Add to it humor, and a bit of romance that doesn't detract from the mystery, and I'm hooked. Reminds me a bit of Meg Langslow in Donna Andrews' books. I can't wait to read the next one!
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
When Maggy and her friends decided to open a coffee shop she knew it would be hard work but she didn’t know it would be murder. With characters that you can relate to, a flow and pace that holds your interest, this is a cozy mystery with twists and turns for action and to keep the reader guessing.
A.K. Frailey
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this mystery with a bit of romance. The main character was fun and interesting and the side characters were honest and believable. I looked forward to returning to this story at the end of each day.
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
This mystery was an easy read and very enjoyable. I liked the main character, Maggy. I read this as a break from reading classics; it worked! I think I'll try her second novel too as I read Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. One should balance the other, I hope. ...more
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved the character of Maggy and can't wait to see how her character develops as she goes through her divorce and her coffee shop gets established. It had some nice plot twists and even through the stereotype lawman she likes tells her to butt out, he isn't mean about it. ...more
Allison Ann
I don't like when the MC of a cozy is portrayed as so incompetent that she constantly needs rescuing from various situations. I don't need Maggy to be supercop, but could she maybe just be able to find her own keys without help? Or duck when someone shoots at her? ...more
Jamie S
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
A rollicking good time. I love Sandy/Nero Wolfe
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Sandra Balzo is an award-winning author of crime fiction, including fourteen books in two mystery series--one set outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the other in the High Country of North Carolina. MURDER a la Mocha, the eleventh Maggy Thorsen Wisconsin coffeehouse mystery, will be released in January, and the series has been optioned for development as a TV series/film.

Balzo's books have garnered

Other books in the series

Maggy Thorsen Mystery (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Grounds for Murder (Maggy Thorsen Mystery #2)
  • Bean There, Done That (Maggy Thorsen Mystery #3)
  • Brewed, Crude and Tattooed (Maggy Thorsen Mystery #4)
  • From the Grounds Up (Maggy Thorsen Mystery #5)
  • A Cup of Jo (Maggy Thorsen Mystery #6)
  • Triple Shot (Maggy Thorsen Mystery #7)
  • Murder on the Orient Espresso (Maggy Thorsen Mystery #8)
  • To the Last Drop: A Coffee House Cozy Mystery (Maggy Thorsen Mystery, #9)
  • Importance of Being Urnest: A Coffee House Cozy
  • Murder a la Mocha: A Coffeehouse Cozy (Maggy Thorsen, #11)

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