Running on Empty

Running on Empty

4.5 6
by Sandra Balzo

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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


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 three pints of blood from poor Mrs Bradenham seemed to set a new standard. Now more and more people are dying and unless Daisy’s daughter can figure out why, her mother may be next.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Balzo (A Cup of Joe) introduces a beguiling heroine in this wryly amusing first in a new series. AnnaLise Griggs temporarily leaves her reporter's job in Wisconsin to check up on her ailing mother in the resort town of Sutherton, N.C. While AnnaLise gently tries to find out why her mother accidentally withdrew way too much blood from a prominent donor at the blood bank, an ominous series of events—the shooting death of a former police chief, the fatal bludgeoning of an outside investor wanting to open a sushi restaurant, an attempt on the life of an aggressive land developer—further disturb her and indeed shake up the entire town. When AnnaLise herself is attacked, she teams with her mother and an intriguing group of former classmates with long memories to do some creative prying. Despite an uneven narrative and a disjointed finale, readers will cheer the resolute and feisty AnnaLise every step of the way. (May)
Library Journal
When her mother begins losing her memory, AnnaLise Griggs returns to her North Carolina hometown of Sutterton, which is plagued by a series of killings. The first to die is a town ne'er-do-well, and the second a Japanese man who was set to open a sushi bar. As the attacks increase, AnnaLise is drawn into the community and realizes she must deal with her mother's worsening infirmity as well as find out who is behind these murders. VERDICT The author of the Maggie Thorsen mysteries (From the Grounds Up) introduces an appealing new amateur sleuth who is calm, good-natured, and nosey for someone else's own good. For readers of G.A. McKevett and Joan Hess.
Kirkus Reviews

A Wisconsin reporter comes home to murder and mayhem in a High Country resort town.

AnnaLise Griggs always called forceful, maternal Phyllis Balisteri "Mama," while calling her own mother, pretty, delicate Lorraine Griggs, "Daisy." When Mama calls to tell her that during the last blood drive, Daisy drained three pints from Ema Bradenham, AnnaLise knows it's her filial duty to see what on earth is up. So she comes back to Sutherton just before Labor Day, by tradition the end of the tourist infestation of the North Carolina town's lakefront attractions—which include Mama's restaurant and Daisy's store, now converted into a nightclub by young Tucker Stanton. Daisy does appear to be having odd spells, forgetting that her husband Tim died years ago and talking about secrets that need to come out. AnnaLise's ex-boyfriend Chuck Greystone is already out, making him Sutherton's first gay police chief. When Rance Smoaks, his predecessor, is found dead in the lake, Chuck doesn't hesitate to question AnnaLise, Sutherton's mayor Bobby Bradenham, and anyone else he thinks might have smoked the ill-tempered Rance. But Rance's death is just the beginning. Someone takes a pot shot at Dickens Hart, who's bent on turning his lakeside inn into condos. And Ichiro Katou, who thinks that what Sutherton needs is a sushi restaurant, also turns up dead. Realizing that all this madness coincides with her return, AnnaLise wonders how Daisy's dementia fits into the crazy quilt her home has become.

Balzo's Maggy Thorsen series (A Cup of Jo, 2010, etc.) was a mild jolt, but her new franchise is a full-throttle joyride.

Magazine - Library Journal
"The author of the Maggie Thorsen mysteries (From the Grounds Up) introduces an appealing new amateur sleuth who is calm, good-natured, and nosey for someone else's own good. For readers of G.A. McKevett and Joan Hess."
Magazine - Publishers Weekly
“A beguiling heroine in this wryly amusing first in a new series. . . . readers will cheer the resolute and feisty AnnaLise every step of the way."
Reviews - Booklist Magazine
"Balzo has created a lively southern town full of quirky characters and matched them with a lively plot. Readers who enjoy Margaret Maron's Deborah Knott mysteries will have fun with this one."
Reviews - Kirkus Magazine
“A full-throttle joyride."

Product Details

Severn House Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Sandra Balzo turned to mystery writing after twenty years in corporate public relations, event management and publicity. Triple Shot, her seventh Maggy Thorsen coffeehouse mystery, was just released, and Sandy's second series, Main Street Mysteries, debuted in April with Running on Empty. The books, set in the popular vacation destination of North Carolina's High Country, will alternate with the Maggy Thorsen mysteries. Heaven's Fire, about a fireworks show gone badly wrong, was released directly to Kindle with excellent reviews.

Balzo's novels have been nominated for both the Anthony and Macavity awards and received starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist. In addition to her books about coffee-maven Maggy Thorsen and displaced journalist AnnaLise Griggs, Balzo writes short stories, two of which have been published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, winning the Macavity, Derringer and Robert L. Fish awards. Those psychological thrillers, along with a third original story, are available on Kindle in The Grass is Always Greener and Other Stories.
Balzo has handled publicity for three Bouchercons (World Mystery Conventions), as well as the International Association of Crime Writers, and has served a national board member of Mystery Writers of America. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, she currently splits her time between Florida and the High Country of North Carolina.

And roots for the Green Bay Packers.

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Running on Empty 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
DAinNY1 More than 1 year ago
Upon hearing disturbing news regarding her mother, AnnaLise comes home and being the journalist that she is, starts investigating the recent spate of dead bodies, when it looks like her mother may be a target. This was a good story that I enjoyed immensely. The comfortable tone set the stage for this well-written mystery that I could not put down. When long ago secrets come crashing down and are exposed, it lends itself to a revelation that I did not see coming. This character-driven tale boasts a likeable cast, engaging conversation and a small-town atmosphere that is pleasantly appealing. This is a great read and I can’t wait for the next book in this terrific series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The details of the characters, locations, history of all the characters makes it feel like the reader is in the story watching from afar. I could not put it down. Reminded me of the writing of other great mystery writers: Denise Swanson, Kate Collins, Avery Aames, and Ellery Adams (to name a few) I can't wait for more books to come out in this series
wendyld More than 1 year ago
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 understand what is happening to her mother, and at the same time reconnect with her old pals, the town drunk is murdered. Chuck, an old flame, now the town Sheriff, tells her he is gay and out of the closet, another surprise for AnnaLise to deal with. During Chuck’s pursuit for clues an egotistical land developer is shot in the arm, barely escaping death. Are the two shootings related? If so, the sketchy clues lead to close friends of AnnaLise. Even her own mother becomes a suspect after a Japanese friend of a friend who purchased an apartment in the new development is drowned under suspicious circumstances. AnnaLise’s journalism background comes in handy as she asks the tough questions and her dogged search for the answers reveal shocking secrets and lies that put her and her mother at peril. A delightful new series from the author of the Maggy Thorsen Mysteries!,
Dollycas More than 1 year ago
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, just a couple of extra pints and Mrs. Bradenham was fine, well as fine as she was before the incident. AnnaLise arrives home just in time for the Labor Day celebration but after getting the whole story on her mother, AnnaLise finds this is going to be more than just a little trip home. Bodies are turning up everywhere and she fears Daisy may be next. Using her training as a journalist she sets out to investigate what the heck is going on in Sutherton and is going get to the bottom of it, if she doesn't die trying. I know, I rarely say I love the first book of any series because I believe it takes more than one story to get to know the characters, the setting and the a journey the author has planned for both, but I absolutely, positively, genuinely loved this book!!! I want to visit Sutherton as soon as possible. There is a cafe like in every small town where the news and gossip travels at the speed of light. AnnaLise is surrounded by a great group of friends and even an old boyfriend or two. The story flows naturally, the mystery unfolds with ease, the humor level is spot-on, and most of the characters are offbeat but all of them are lovable. I have always stated that being a true storyteller is a gift. Sandra Balzo has that gift. I can't believe it took me so long to find this wonderful author. I have read the first book in the Maggy Thorsen Mystery Series too and cannot wait to get caught up on the rest of that series. Pre-order Running On Empty today. You can thank me later because I know you will love it too!!! Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
AAR More than 1 year ago
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 quick read that is fast paced and full of surprises that I would recommend this one.You won't be sorry you picked it up to read. This book was received for the purpose of review from the author and details can be found at Seven House Publishers and My Book Addiction and More.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Wisconsin crime reporter AnnaLise Griggs is asked by family friend Mama Balisteri to come home because she is concerned there is something wrong with AnnaLise's mother Daisy Griggs. At the local blood bank the phlebotomist siphoned three pints of blood from donor Mrs. Bradenham. Griggs races back to Sutherton, North Carolina to check up on her mom. Upon seeing Daisy, Griggs finds her zoned out spouting things she does nor remember saying later. AnnaLise notices in the normally peaceful town, though there have always been foolish isolated incidents like the beer drinking swimmer who lost a bet, but this is different. A series of murders, looking like accidents with none seemingly related to each other, has recently occurred. This predator tries to kill AnnaLise, but fails. Not one to sit idly back and worried about her mom, AnnaLise uses her journalist skills to investigate a serial killer stalking the Main Street. While Maggy Thorsen takes a well deserved Wisconsin coffee break from amateur sleuthing, Sandra Balzo begins another wonderful regional mystery series. In addition to the super whodunit, readers obtain a look at living in a small southern town during the Labor Day weekend. The cast is colorful especially mama and add believability to a terrific North Carolina murder mystery. Harriet Klausner