Grounds to Kill

Grounds to Kill

4.0 9
by Wendy Roberts

Barista Jen Hamby's coworkers give her a hard time for bringing coffee and pastries to a homeless man who sits outside her café—but she has a secret. The scruffy man is her father.

She's also hiding the little matter of why her palm itches. But how can she explain that her hand has a mind of its own and writes messages from the beyond? Right.


Barista Jen Hamby's coworkers give her a hard time for bringing coffee and pastries to a homeless man who sits outside her café—but she has a secret. The scruffy man is her father.

She's also hiding the little matter of why her palm itches. But how can she explain that her hand has a mind of its own and writes messages from the beyond? Right. That'll get her Employee of the Month.

When she finds herself scrawling your boyfriend is cheating on you! to herself on the bathroom mirror, she immediately dumps the guy. But then his little fling—who just happens to be her half sister—turns up dead, and suddenly Jen's homeless father is the prime suspect.

Jen knows he is being framed and must take matters into her own hands to protect him. But will anyone believe that the crazy old man is innocent? Or that his spirit-writing daughter holds the truth?

66,000 words

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Thirty-year-old Jen Hanby works as a Seattle barista. She’s celebrating her six-month anniversary with Arthur, a traffic cop, when she gets an inkling from her spirit guide that he may be cheating on her. Readers are quickly thrown into Jen’s complicated life when her half-sister is murdered, and their homeless, mentally ill father is considered a suspect. Jen is aided by Mallory and Beth, two high school girlfriends, and Mitch, the sexy guy she works with at the coffee shop, to figure out who the killer is. Roberts is also the author of the “Ghost Dusters” series (e.g., Drop Dead Beauty).

Verdict Roberts creates likable, believable characters with complex lives. The mystery has twists and turns that keep the reader engaged. Fans will be cheering for Mitch and Jen in the inevitable sequel.—Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Carina Press
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There's a superstition that says if the palm of your hand is itchy you'll soon be receiving money. If that were true, I'd be a gazillionaire instead of an underpaid barista. Instinctively, I felt my itchy hand might one day bring me luck. So far, nada.

I rubbed my burning palm on the countertop while I concentrated on whipping up a large café mocha, no sugar, no whip, extra-dry, half-skim, half-whole milk, with chocolate syrup.

"Watch your back, Jen." My co-worker, Mitch, squeezed behind me to get to the cooler for more milk.

Mitch was tall and muscular with golden hair and eyes like hot espresso. When Mitch worked, Merlot's Café saw a fifty percent increase in female clientele. The estrogen enriched customers flocked to flirt with him. They tended to hang around too long and talk too much, but I didn't mind. Mitch's hundred watt smiles had a direct correlation to how the tip jar overflowed, and we shared gratuities. I reaped the benefits without having to sell my own soul with plunging necklines and pushup bras.

My palm was itching even more, so I snagged a wooden stir stick and scraped it roughly against my hand.

"Eczema acting up?" Mitch asked, raising his eyebrows.

I merely shrugged. No sense in complicating our working relationship by telling him I was crazy.

Mitch took a woman's coffee order, then elbowed me good naturedly.

"Hey, look." He indicated outside the coffee shop with his chin. "It's your pal, Mr. Stinky."

He chuckled, but I didn't. My teeth clenched as I glanced out the coffee shop's window. A disheveled homeless man took up his usual sloppy stance on the sidewalk across the street.

"He's not my friend."

I took an order for a medium, extra-dry café mocha with raspberry syrup.

"You say he's not your friend but I doubt you've bought anyone else on the planet as many coffees as that guy."

Mitch was bent at the waist restocking the pastry case and looked up at me with a smarmy grin. He was trying to be funny so I resisted the temptation to send him flying into the lemon scones.

"Admit it," Mitch chided as he got to his feet. "As far as coffee dates go, you and Mr. Stinky are on a roll."

"Right. You caught me." I tucked a wayward strand of brown hair back into my loose ponytail.

Normally, working with Mitch was a coaster ride of wit made even more fun because he was so easy on the eyes. But it was only halfway through my shift and my feet already hurt in my new espadrilles. Don't mess with a girl with sore feet.

"Oh you li-i-ike him," Mitch teased. He elbowed me in the ribs as he passed.

"You got me. I'm a pushover for skinny fifty-year-olds that smell like a Dumpster."

"Fifty? You think he's fifty?" Mitch straightened, tilted his head and stared out the window. "I'd say a hard sixty."

A bouffant-blonde regular stepped up to the counter in thigh-high boots and an impossibly tight blue dress.

"What do you think, Molly?" Mitch asked her. "How old do you think Mr. Stinky is? Jen says fifty and I'm going with early sixties."

"Who?" she asked, looking confused.

"The homeless dude who's been sitting across the street every day the last month or so." When Molly continued to offer him a blank stare, Mitch added, "You walk by him every morning to get your tea."

Molly glanced quickly over her shoulder.

"He's there every day?" She frowned and blinked long false eyelashes. "I never noticed."

Meet the Author


WENDY ROBERTS is an armchair sleuth and a fan of all things mysterious. She lives in Surrey, British Columbia, with four teens, a tenacious yorky and a sluggish guinea pig. Wendy is the proud author of Grounds to Kill as well as many other paranormal mysteries. You can visit her on the Web at and follow her on Twitter @authorwendy.

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Grounds to Kill 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
DiiMI More than 1 year ago
Jen is a snarky, slightly quirky barrista whose ex-boyfriend cheated on her with her 1/2 sister, who has just turned up murdered. Kind of makes Jen look guilty, because she is the one who found the body while in the process of throwing dog poop, yep, LARGE dog poop, into her sister's apartment. Add to this, Jen's father is a homeless man with mental issues, who refuses to speak and has suddenly disappeared. Did I mention that Jen has a spirit guide that uses auto-writing to communicate cryptic messages to her, or that she has a weird old lady for a neighbor, who is the apartment watch patrol? Jen also has two very good friends, who stick by her, no matter what. So, if Jen didn't kill her sister and neither has any of the suspects Jen puts on her list, who did? Where is her father? What does the drag queen have to do with any of this? Wendy Roberts has a cute, fun read here with a hint of romance, mystery, and a lively heroine who made em laugh with her antics, attitude, and her mouth! There is a touch of 'tongue-in-cheek' throughout this light, murder mystery! A copy of this book was provided by NetGalley and Carina Press in exchange for an honest review!
eternalised More than 1 year ago
Cozy mystery with a touch of paranormal. Jen is a barista with a homeless father and an itching hand that writes messages from the month. Unfortunately, her life is about to get worse – her boyfriend is cheating on her, his fling turns up dead, and her Dad is the number one suspect. Interesting mystery, but the main character lacked personality, and the story was riddled with adjectives. Suspenseful, at times humorous, but all in all, just “okay”. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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ljckimmel More than 1 year ago
It took a couple of chapters to really catch my interest but once I figured out the characters, I was hooked until the end. There were a few things not explained or concluded but if the author writes another one with this heroine, maybe she will answer some of those dangling threads.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
rhonda1111RL More than 1 year ago
Grounds to kill keeps you guessing till the end who the bad guys are. It is a murder mystery that Barista Jen Hamby wants to solve, with her friends. Why she feels the need to investigate the murder is simple. She found the body and hated her. Misty was her half sister,who slept with her boyfriend Arthur. The other suspect the cops have is her father. Her father who is homeless,doesn't speak to her for years but comes by the coffee shop a lot lately and hands out fliers for missing dog out all over. He does not have a dog even. Jen also has a left hand that has a mind of its own and writes messages to her. Jen's hand wrote on the bathroom mirror that Arthur slept with Misty. So Jen kicks him out. For her hand is always right. She does not tell to many people that fact. She has two good friends that try and help her when they can. The guy she works with wants to be better friends. Jen keeps getting into more trouble the longer she looks for the truth. Even her ex-boyfriend thinks she could be the killer. Arthur wants Jen to give him a second chance. It was not a book to easyly decide what catergory of books it is. I liked it because I had no idea where it was leading. Loved the different characters. It was easy to follow the story and keep track of the characters. Some good humor. I would read another book in the future of Wendy's. I was given this ebook to read and asked to give honest review of it when finshed by Netgalley. Publisher: Carina Press (January 7, 2013) 181 pages ASIN: B00A22UVJG
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lattes and murder :D