Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Running on Empty (Main Street Mystery #1)” as Want to Read:
Running on Empty (Main Street Mystery #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Running on Empty (Main Street Mystery #1)

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  199 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews

The first in a new series by the author of the ‘Maggy Thorsen’ mysteries  - Life on Sutherton's Main Street has always been inexplicably hazardous. Like the student who bet he could paddle a beer-filled ice chest across the lake. And lost. Not to mention the occasional tourist who wandered into the mountains, never to wander back out. But the day  Daisy Griggs siphoned thr

Hardcover, 208 pages
Published April 1st 2011 by Severn House Publishers (first published 2011)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Running on Empty, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Running on Empty

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I actually stayed up last night (this morning) until after 3 am to finish this book. The first in Sandra Balzo's Main Street Murders series, has a feisty, sometimes grouchy protagonist who is called away from her newspaper job in Wisconsin to "see to" her mother who, though only 50, is having brief, troubling episodes of loss of concentration and reality.
Annalise returns to her home town and her lifelong friends and relations, and finds herself in the middle of a mystery: In the short time that
D. Wickles
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book.
Bonnie Drummond
Nov 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Running on Empty book#1 in the series MAIN STREET MURDERS MYSTERY by: Sandra Balzo. This book will have you coming back for more. Go back to small town living where every one knows every one business and where the skeletons are buried. But when a mother is in trouble her daughter will come home to help. Coming back brings a lot of memories of old and the changes that take place now, and seeing her two best friends are welcome to her as she try's to put a disastrous relationship behind her and mo ...more
Jan 02, 2018 rated it liked it
This was an enjoyable read. I confess I did get confused at times trying to decide who AnnaLise was talking too. Her mother she called Daisy and her mothers best friend Phyllis she called Mama due to the name of Phyllis's restaurant and everyone in the town called her Mama. Most of the time when AnnaLise mentions Mama I had to stop and think "wait, she's not talking to/about her mother but Phyllis. I will be reading the next book in the series.
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Found this mystery series very enjoyable from the start. A very easy read for those who like a cozy read after work and just want to relax. I usually read before going to sleep or after reading math and science. All of the books so far in the series were good. Waiting now for the next volume to be published.
David Caldwell
I have lived in the mountains of western North Carolina for most of my life, so I am a sucker for books set in WNC.When I saw this book was in the nothern mountains of NC, I jumped at the chance to read it.

Unfortunately, almost from the very beginning, I could tell the writer wasn't from around here.She never quite captures the mountain attitudes.She was obviously one of those people who spends half the time in the mountains and the other half somewhere else.Admittedly, some of these people mana
Mar 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
AnnaLise left Sutherton, North Carolina to go to college in Wisconsin and really never looked back. That was until she received the phone call that told her "...Daisy (her mother),she went and drained all of the blood out of Mrs. Bradenham." "Don't you worry, I didn't let the chief's police boys take your mother away." AnnaLise threw a few things in her car and headed home to North Carolina. To clarify, Daisy was helping at the local blood drive and she didn't drain all of Mrs. Bradenham's blood ...more
Oct 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Narrated by Amy DeLuca

Publishers' Summary

The debut title in a new series by the award-winning author of the Maggy Thorsen Coffee Mysteries, optioned for television.
Though a magnet to tourists looking for some Southern comfort, the small lake town of Sutherton - tucked so picturesquely into the mountains of North Carolina - has had its fair share inexplicable hazards. But when Daisy Griggs siphoned three pints of blood from poor Mrs. Bradenham at the resort's annual blood drive - well, that seeme
Feb 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
AnnaLise Griggs is working when she receives a call from Mama, who is really not her mother, informing her that Daisy, who is her mother, had drained all of the blood out of Mrs. Brandenham. Mama also informs AnnaLise that the doctor says Daisy is not quite right. Mama is Phyllis Balisteri the proprietor of Mama Philomena’s restaurant in Sutherton, North Carolina, AnnaLise’s hometown. AnnaLise began calling her mother Daisy when she was in kindergarten and eventually most everyone called Lorrain ...more
Apr 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
review originally posted:

We start the story with AnnaLise, who is a reporter, getting a phone call that her mother has drained Mrs Bradenham of blood (only 3 or 4 pints). She rushes back home to find her mother having spells where she goes back to her youth and forgets the present. During this time people begin to show up dead and it's not drunk tourists, it's the locals. This is when the book started to pick up for me. Trying to figure out what three see
Wendy Dingwall
Aug 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
The first mystery in the Main Street series takes off with a bang! Running on Empty has diverse and quirky characters, a quaint “High Country” setting, and a good plot with ample red herrings to keep the most avid cozy mystery readers guessing.

AnnaLise Griggs is called home to her childhood residence in Sutherton, NC. Her mother, Daisy, has just drained several pints of blood from a friend during a blood drive. Was it an accident or has her mother lost her mind? While AnnaLise tries to understan
Mar 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Annalise is a charming, clever and calm character no matter what is happening at the time. She gets a call from "Mama" the local owner of the Sutherton's cafe, to come help her mom Daisy. After telling Annalise what happened to Mrs Bradenham she decides to come home fro the weekend and find out what is going on. No sooner then Annalise gets to the cafe when they learn there is a body on the beach. It is the old Chief of police that her friend Chuck took over for. He ends up shot. Was it an accid ...more
E.Michael Helms
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
Review from E. Michael Helms

AnnaLise Griggs, ace reporter for a Wisconsin newspaper, receives a bizarre phone call from her North Carolina hometown. Her mother has drained a goodly portion of blood from a prominent citizen during a local blood drive. Reluctantly, AnnaLise returns home to see if her mother has turned closet vampire or is going senile.

It seems the Twilight Zone has risen and settled upon the small mountain community of Sutherton. She encounters a group of characters, some quirky,
Jan 21, 2015 rated it liked it
I saw this book on a library display and picked it up although "mysteries lite" isn't usually a genre I seek out. The main character/amateur detective (AnnaLise) is clever and likeable in a Nancy Drew/Jessica Fletcher kind of way. There are alot of other quirky characters living in a quirky town that has more than the normal share of scandal and secrecy. Some don't stay around long as they are being murdered, but I liked the idea of the main character returning to her home town to solve a myster ...more
Melissa Waldron
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I love finding new authors and new series to read. Running on Empty by Sandra Balzo did not disappoint me.

I was caught from the first chapter and couldn't wait to get back to the story any time that I had to put it down. The characters and the story were well thought out and developed. The story kept me guessing as I tried to figure out the killer was.

I really liked AnnaLise and can't wait to see how she develops in the next book. In this book, she has to face a couple of problems in her perso
Jeannie and Louis Rigod
Apr 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Seriously, I purchased this book based upon my appreciation of the Author's talents. I loved her Maggie Thornsen mysteries so I figured I'd like her new series.

Well, I truly do like the characters and action found in Sutherton, N.C. This township lives on tourism, but worries pop up when the normal above normal accident rates begin to climb steeply. Our new sleuth, AnnaLise is there to check how her Mom is doing after receiving a urgent message from a close friend,

AnnaLise finds murders, paterni
Jul 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'm always a little wary when an author starts a new series, but Sandra Balzo (author also of the Maggie Thorsen coffee house books) has really produced a winner this time. AnnaLise Griggs, a reporter in Wisconsin, has come home to Sutherton for the Labor Day weekend because her mother Daisy seems to be losing her grip. Sutherton, on a lake and in the mountains, always has a high accident rate, but this is ridiculous: first the former police chief is found in the lake, then someone shoots at the ...more
Feb 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
RUNNING ON EMPTY:A MAIN STREET MYSTERY by Sandra Balzo is a delightful murder mystery set in present day Sutherton, North Carolina. It is written with depth and details.It is the beginning of a new series. It has murder,mystery,small town life,serial killer,unexplained happenings,accidents, amateur sleuth,journalist,and murders that look like accidents.Daisy must learn the mystery of the accidents/murder before she or her mother are the next on have an accident.If you enjoy a cozy mystery,a quic ...more
Apr 16, 2011 rated it liked it
I have loved the Maggy Thorsen series by Sandra Balzo so was interested in her new series. Running on Empty did not disappoint. Set in a small North Carolina town, AnnaLisa comes home for a weekend to check up on her mother and finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. One of the things that the author does best is create characters that feel real to me. They have real jobs with real problems but also have real friendships and conversations. They are the sort of people that I would ...more
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed Balzo's Maggie Thornson Mysteries. I was keen to start this new series, Main Street Murder Mysteries but it took me awhile to get into it. To be clear, I stopped and started with the book and that may have been becuase I had read seven of the Maggie Thornson in a row. The mind may not have been ready for the new setting and characters.

Anyway, I kept at it and finsinghed the book once I found my groove in a couple of days. It looks like I will enjoy this series as well. It is eng
Linda C
AnnaLise Griggs, Wisconsin reporter, returns home to Sutherton, NC when she receives a call saying her mother has accidentally almost killed someone during a blood donor drive. It seems, Daisy, has been acting strangely and having memory issues. Soon after AnnaLise arrives and starts reconnecting with old friends a real murder does happen. The town has been changing to attract tourists, particularly a large housing and shopping development. These changes don't please everyone. As things change, ...more
Mar 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Reviewed by Andrew at

I enjoyed the mystery of this novel because it kept taking many plot twists and turns. I never could have imagined the secrets that some of the town citizens were trying to keep hidden. Running on Empty kept me engrossed to the very last page.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery. I would rate Running on Empty 5 robots! It will keep you trying to solve the mystery behind the killings along with AnnaLise. I can’t wait to continue
Dec 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
First in Balzo's Main Street mystery series. Annalise Griggs returns to her hill country home of Sutherton, North Carolina from Wisconsin where she works as a crime reporter. Her mother has been showing signs of memory lapses so Annalise returns to see how she is doing. There are two murders, an attempted murder and attack on Annalise within a couple of days of her arrival.

Interesting story as Annalise renews friendships and helps solve the murders.
Feb 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to more in this new series. The characters were well developed, and the twists and turns in the plot kept me interested. I love unexpected endings.

The next book needs to include a map, though. The directions in this one were confusing, and my hand-drawn map according to the descriptions didn't make sense.
Shirley Worley
Apr 22, 2014 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed the characters in this book and can see it as a great beginning to a new series. For me, Running On Empty seemed to run a little slow near the middle to last half of the book, but then it picked up quite nicely with a fantastic finish. The revealing was quite a surprise at the end and more than made up for the slow places.
Jayce Senter
Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book was the literary equivalent of a Hallmark movie.

I liked most of the characters. (Oddly enough the know-it-all main character wasn't one that I liked.) And I truly wanted to know how the story ended. But the writing was sub-par and cheesy.
May 15, 2011 added it
Ultra athlete coping with a cross country run U.S. San Fran to NYC run + 1 idiot, Charlie Engle. Story is all about Marshall, Engle is an unpleasant side note. A very good, inspiring story; Ulrich nailed it. Engle loser! How's the prison food,Charlie
Jul 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Enjoyed the setting in particular as I live in Asheville NC. The characters were interesting and true to life. The authors get the "feel" between two old friends. The plot was mildly complex but it's the people who make the story. A pleasant read.
Feb 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a good book I enjoyed getting to know the characters both past and present. There were times that I could not help but chuckle to myself. but the book shows what one person will do to silence her past
Anyta Noor
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A Case of Imagination (Madeline Maclin #1)
  • Stealing with Style (Sterling Glass, #1)
  • For Better, for Murder (Broken Vows, #1)
  • Murder by Serpents: The Murder Quilt (Theo and Tony Abernathy Mystery, #1)
  • Dogs Don't Lie (Pru Marlowe, #1)
  • The Cooking School Murders (Eugenia Potter, #1)
  • Double Black (A Ski Diva Mystery, #1)
  • The Telltale Turtle (Pet Psychic Mystery #1)
  • Well Bred and Dead (A High Society Mystery, #1)
  • Three Bedrooms, Two Baths, One Very Dead Corpse
  • A Real Basket Case (Claire Hanover, Gift Basket Designer, #1)
  • Murder in Miniature (Miniature Mystery, #1)
  • A House to Die For (Darby Farr, #1)
  • Looks to Die For (Lacy Fields, #1)
  • Who Invited the Dead Man? (Thoroughly Southern, #3)
  • Deadly Threads (Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery, #6)
  • Dating Can Be Murder (Samantha Shaw Mystery, #1)
  • Flamingo Fatale (Trailer Park Mystery #1)
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
More about Sandra Balzo

Other books in the series

Main Street Mystery (3 books)
  • Dead Ends (Main Street Mystery #2)
  • Hit and Run: A Cozy Mystery Set in the Mountains of North Carolina

Mystery & Thrillers Deals

  • Genome (The Extinction Files #2)
    $5.99 $2.49
  • The Wrong Man
    $9.49 $1.99
  • What You Don't Know
    $13.99 $2.99
  • The River Is Dark (Liam Dempsey, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • When They Come for You (Harper McDaniel #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Murder at Bray Manor : a cozy historical mystery
    $3.99 $1.49
  • Wired (Wired, #1)
    $6.99 $2.99
  • Every Single Secret
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Name of the Devil: A Jessica Blackwood Novel
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Working Fire
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Night Crew (Sean Drummond, #7)
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Music of the Deep
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Adventuress (Lady Emily, #10)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Summer Children (The Collector, #3)
    $6.99 $2.99
  • The Good Twin
    $5.99 $2.99
  • An Innocent Client (Joe Dillard, #1)
    $3.99 $1.49
  • The Speed of Sound (Speed of Sound Thrillers #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Red Bones (Shetland Island, #3)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Bourne Initiative (Jason Bourne, #14)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Good Neighbor
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Under an English Heaven: An Ellie Kent Mystery
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Pretty Girls Dancing
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Swansong (DI Nick Dixon #4)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Have His Carcase (Lord Peter Wimsey #8)
    $6.99 $1.99
  • My Brother Michael
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas
    $19.99 $2.99
  • Mr. Timothy
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Kill Society (Sandman Slim, #9)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • What Lies Below
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Silent Child
    $2.99 $0.99
  • The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Pleasantville
    $12.49 $1.99
  • The Walkers of Dembley (Agatha Raisin, #4)
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Killing Orders
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Heirs of Grace
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Sound of Rain
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Hidden Killers (Tennison, #2)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • What If
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Come Closer
    $9.99 $1.99
  • My Best Friend's Exorcism
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Cold Granite (Logan McRae, #1)
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Private Lies (Jane Avery #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Liars, Inc.
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Death Wears a Mask (Amory Ames Mystery, #2)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Sacred Clowns (Navajo Mysteries, #11)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Less Than A Treason (Kate Shugak, #21)
    $9.99 $4.49
  • The Air Raid Killer (Max Heller, Dresden Detective, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • New York Dead (Stone Barrington #1)
    $6.99 $1.99
  • The Ministry of Fear
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Heart-Shaped Box
    $11.99 $2.99
  • 15 Seconds
    $6.99 $1.99
  • You'll Never Know, Dear
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Cruelty
    $7.80 $2.99
  • Paragon Walk (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt, #3)
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Secret Mother
    $2.99 $1.49