When an ice cream vendor discovers a frozen stiff, Florida diner owner Gia Morelli has to serve up some just desserts . . .
Gia has become good friends with Trevor, a fun, flirtatious bachelor who owns the ice cream parlor down the street from her popular All-Day Breakfast Café. Trevor has the scoop on all sorts of local attractions and activities. But when he bursts into her diner, trembling and paler than a pint of French Vanilla, she can tell something's very wrong. Trevor points her toward his shop then passes out cold. When Gia runs down to his shop, she discovers a chilling sight—a dead body in the open freezer. But the ice cream man's troubles are just beginning. The police suspect him of this murder a la mode, especially when details of his questionable past surface. Gia believes in her friend and is determined to clear his name and find the real cold-blooded killer before someone else gets put on ice . . .
Praise for Lena Gregory
“Hold on to your plates for this fast-paced mystery that will leave you hungering for more!”—J.C. Eaton, author of the Sophie Kimball Mysteries, on Scone Cold Killer
“Family secrets, old mansions, and a growing list of murder victims—these elements and more blend together to make an intriguing as well as entertaining cozy mystery.”—RT Book Reviews on Occult and Battery
“As breezy and salty as a gust of wind off the chilly bay waters.”—Juliet Blackwell, New York Times bestselling author of the Witchcraft Mysteries on Death at First Sight
“An intriguing opening to a fun new series.”—E. J. Copperman, national bestselling author of the Haunted Guesthouse Mysteries on Death at First Sight
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.47(d)|
Read an Excerpt
"Oh, please, gag me." Savannah Mills slid the tip of one long, lime-green nail beneath the tab of a diet soda can and popped it open. With one eye on the TV, she poured it into a glass over ice. "That man has no more business being mayor than I do."
Gia Morelli finished wiping down the counter from the breakfast rush, tossed the rag into a bin beneath the counter, and turned toward the muted TV. "What did Ron Parker ever do to you, and why do you insist on drinking soda from a can when there's a perfectly good fountain right behind you?"
Savannah kept her gaze on the TV and waved Gia off. "I like it better from the can, more bubbly. And Ron never did anything to me. It's the way he presents himself, all squeaky clean and snooty. In the meantime, that man is as phony as a three-dollar bill."
Earl Dennison, the elderly gentleman who'd been the All-Day Breakfast Café's first customer and still hung around regularly, reached over the counter, grabbed the TV remote, and turned up the volume. Then he sat back down on his usual stool and dug into his massive breakfast. "What makes you say that?"
"Just look at him, that slick grin plastered on his face everywhere he goes." She lifted a brow toward Earl and wagged a finger at the TV. "I don't care what anyone says; no one is that happy all the time."
Though Gia could see Savannah's point — Ron Parker stood behind a podium, his smile so big he had to speak through clenched teeth — she didn't need the two of them arguing over politics. The few customers who still lingered over breakfast or coffee didn't seem to be bothered by the conversation, but still ... "Knock it off, you two, or I'll ban all talk of politics in the café until after the election is over."
Earl held up his hands, still clutching his fork. "Hey, not our fault there's nothing else on the TV but election coverage."
"Yeah, well, I don't want anyone getting riled up in here." Gia fiddled with the valve on the new Cold Brew Coffeemaker sitting on the counter behind the register.
"True enough. People do tend to get worked up over politics," Earl agreed.
Gia accidentally nudged the valve handle, just a little, and coffee poured out onto the floor. She flipped it back into place and grabbed a handful of paper towels. "Shoot!"
Earl cleared his throat — to cover his laughter, no doubt. "Granted, I don't know much about making cold coffee, but isn't that thing a little big?"
"Ya think?" Savannah snickered. "How much does it hold, anyway?"
Gia's cheeks heated. She mopped up the spill and tossed the paper towels into the garbage pail, then mumbled, "Fifty gallons."
Earl laughed out loud. "What on earth are you going to do with fifty gallons of cold coffee?"
"Hey, in my defense, I got a good deal on the machine. Besides, Trevor split the cost with me, and every day when it's ready, I'm going to send half down to the ice cream parlor for him." Gia wet a wad of paper towels and bent to clean the stickiness off the floor.
The front door opened.
"Well, I'll be doggoned," Savannah said, amusement clear in her voice. "Speak of the devil."
Gia looked up at the back of Savannah's head. "Who is it? Trevor?"
Savannah shot a grin over her shoulder at Gia. "Nope."
With most of the stickiness cleaned up enough for the moment — she'd give it a good mopping later — Gia stood and stared straight into Ron Parker's trademark smile.
"Good morning, good morning." He approached the counter, his hand held out. "Ron Parker. Nice to meet you."
Gia shook his hand. "Gia Morelli. It's a pleasure to meet you."
The leggy blonde standing next to him, wearing a mini skirt and a halter top, held out a pamphlet, a hundred-watt smile deepening her dimples.
Ron took the pamphlet and handed it to Gia. "I'm just making the rounds, visiting all of the establishments along Main Street, hoping to share my message."
Gia took the proffered pamphlet and glanced at Ron's smiling face on the front cover before dropping it onto the counter. Savannah was right; he'd do better to drop the fake grin. "Thank you. I'll be sure to read through it later."
"Of course." Ron looked around the café. "I have to admit, I expected you'd be busier."
Gia bristled. Business had improved quite a bit in the past few months. Unfortunately, not as much as she'd hoped. "You probably should have come earlier, when the breakfast crowd was still here. You could hang around for a little while if you want, maybe have something to eat and catch the lunch rush. Can I offer you a cold brew coffee?"
His smile diminished, just a little, but Gia still caught the change.
"No, thanks. Can't stand the stuff. I wouldn't mind a black coffee and a blueberry muffin, though. To go." He gestured toward his assistant, and for a minute Gia thought he was going to ask her what she wanted. "Get that for me, will ya, hon?"
Savannah swiveled on the stool, until her back faced Ron, then pursed her lips and stared pointedly at Gia.
Gia had known Savannah long enough to spot an I told you so look, even in her peripheral vision. She ignored her and turned to pour his coffee.
By the time she got his order ready and rang it up, Ron had already swept through the room, shaking hands and making promises, and was ready to leave. He held both hands out in front of him, his forefingers and thumbs extended like pistols. "It was a pleasure to meet y'all. I sure hope I can count on your votes."
Thankfully, Savannah waited for him to leave before she started in. "I hate to say I told you so —"
"You don't have to. It was written all over your face," Gia said.
"The way he treats his poor assistant is awful. And what's with that outfit she had on? You'd think she'd dress more professionally if she's going to campaign with him. He'd do better to leave her back at the office. People might take him more seriously."
"Not to disagree," Earl piped in, "but some people just talk that way, especially those used to flipping orders and having them obeyed. He might not have meant any offense. And she sure is a mite easier on the eyes than the candidate."
"Hey ..." Savannah pointed her almost dagger-length nail toward him. "You watch it now, buddy. You don't see Mitchell Anderson parading a woman around like some sort of prized trophy, treating her like his servant. Of course, he doesn't have to play games like that. Mitch Anderson is no slouch. If you ask me, he's sort of a hottie. And talk about squeaky clean ..."
"I'm not sure he's as clean as everyone says," Earl argued. "There ain't no one don't have a skeleton or two buried somewhere."
"Yeah, well, that may be true, but that woman ain't got nothin' buried." Savannah lifted a brow toward the door, where Ron and his assistant had stopped on the sidewalk to speak to a woman pushing a baby stroller. "Look at that skirt; if it were any shorter, you'd be able to see clear to the top of the Christmas tree."
Earl winked at Savannah, then laughed and shoved a forkful of sausage into his mouth.
Savannah shot him a scowl.
Gia left them to their bickering. She'd just opened the register and started to count out the money from the breakfast crowd when the front door opened. She went to drop the bills back into their slots as she looked up, then kept them in her hand. "Oh, hey, Skyla."
"Hi, Gia, Savannah, Earl. Is Willow around? We're supposed to meet for lunch." Skyla Broussard dropped her big canvas bag onto an empty stool and slid onto the one next to it at the counter.
"Yup, she'll be right in. She just brought the garbage out." Gia squashed down the pang of guilt she felt. She'd pretty much managed to go everywhere in the café, and even out back to leave Harley's dinner, but she still parked out front on the street and had someone else take out the garbage whenever possible. And she still hated looking in the direction of the dumpster, ever since she'd found Bradley's body. "Would you like a cup of coffee while you wait? I have cold brew now."
"Just a regular coffee would be great, thanks." Skyla glanced over at Earl. "You're in late today."
"Yup." He puffed up his chest and sat a bit straighter. "Spent all night at the hospital."
"Oh, no." Skyla's hand fluttered to her chest. "Are you all right?"
"Oh, yeah, I mean no, I mean ..." Earl's cheeks flushed a deep crimson. "My whole clan spent the night at the hospital awaiting the arrival of Becky Lynn, grandchild number sixteen."
"Oh, Earl, that's awesome. Congratulations."
He nodded. "Thank you. Sure did take her sweet time comin', that one did."
Skyla laughed. "That's okay. The things you appreciate most in life are those you have to wait for."
"Ain't that the truth." Earl soaked a biscuit in gravy and took a bite.
Gia finished counting the twenties and dropped them into the deposit bag, then turned to get the coffee.
Savannah beat her to it. By the time Gia turned, she already had a mug in front of Skyla and the pot held over it.
A couple approached the counter, and the man handed Gia his check and a twenty-dollar bill.
"How was your breakfast?" Gia asked as she took the check from him.
"Very good, thank you."
She held his change out to him and smiled. "I hope you'll come again."
"Thank you. I'm sure we will," the man said as he pocketed his change, then turned to go.
"Bobby, wait." The woman he was with caught his arm, staring past him at Skyla. "Skyla? Skyla Broussard, is that you?"
Skyla turned toward her with a smile, but the instant their eyes met, Skyla's face paled and the smile disappeared. "Gabriella Antonini?"
"In the flesh." Gabriella smiled at the man she was with and rubbed a hand up and down his arm, seemingly unaware of Skyla's obvious discomfort. "Well, Fischetti, now. Bobby and I have been married ... well ... pretty much forever."
"What are you doing here?" Skyla demanded.
"Um ..." Gabriella faltered. "We just got back into town last night. We were going to look you up, but we hadn't gotten around to it yet."
"Actually, we were going to look up all of the old gang." Bobby Fischetti held Skyla's stare. "We were feeling a bit nostalgic, figured a reunion of sorts was in order."
Skyla swallowed hard and nodded. "It was good seeing you."
"Sure thing." Gabriella resumed her perky attitude as if nothing awkward had happened. "We'll let you know when we can all get together."
Skyla just nodded again and watched them go, then shifted her gaze to the TV.
Gia glanced at Savannah and drew her eyebrows together.
Savannah shrugged and shook her head.
After a moment, Skyla took a deep shuddering breath, then said, "So, what do you guys think of Ron Parker?"
"Oh, please, don't get them started." Accepting Skyla's change of subject, though curiosity was dang near driving her crazy, Gia started straightening the condiments on the counter.
With one last glance at Gia from the corner of her eye, Savannah chimed in. "Earl and I were just discussing that. Personally, I prefer Mitchell Anderson. He just seems more honest."
Skyla's eyes darkened, just for a second. If Gia hadn't been looking right at her, she'd have missed it.
Hmm ... something there. Skyla was definitely not her usual self this morning, but Gia wouldn't press. There were still customers in the café, and Savannah and Earl were still at the counter with Skyla. Maybe later, if she could get her alone, she'd ask if she was okay. For now, she'd just leave her be.
Gia hadn't yet made up her mind whom to vote for, and she was actively searching for a reason to choose one candidate over the other. Each had strong points, and she hadn't yet come across any major weaknesses for either candidate, but there was still time. Ron's visit definitely hadn't helped his cause. If anything, he'd pushed her more toward Anderson. "You don't like Anderson?" Skyla tilted her head as if contemplating the question. "I don't think he should be mayor."
Savannah finished pouring Skyla's coffee, then topped off everyone else's and put the pot back on the burner. "You prefer Ron Parker?"
Skyla shrugged. "He's not my favorite, and I don't think he's the best role model for young men and women, but he's better than Mitch."
"Oh, please, Mom, are you bashing Mitch Anderson again?" Willow let the door from the back room swing shut behind her and crossed the café. She laid a hand on her mother's shoulder and kissed her cheek. "Sorry I'm running a few minutes late."
Skyla patted her daughter's hand. "No worries, hon. I'm in no rush."
Gia always enjoyed the interaction between Willow and her mother. She'd never had a relationship with her own mother, but if she had, she liked to imagine it would have been like Skyla and Willow, and if she ever had a daughter of her own, she'd do anything to attain that close of a bond.
It struck Gia, as it often did when seeing Willow and Skyla side by side, how much alike they looked. They shared the same long, dark hair, the same exotic green eyes, and the same petite build, but Willow carried herself with a confidence Skyla hadn't quite mastered.
"So, what's the deal with Anderson?" Willow sat down next to her mother and took a blueberry muffin from a cake dish on the counter. "Why do you dislike him so much?"
"I don't know." Skyla stared down into her coffee cup, stirring the milk around, seemingly mesmerized by the tiny whirlpool. "I just don't care for him."
She was lying. The realization hit Gia like a ton of bricks. She'd never have expected Skyla to lie to Willow.
"Yeah, well, Ron Parker is everything you've taught me not to be." Willow broke her muffin in half. "He's phony and arrogant, and he treats everyone around him like they're his minions."
"Mmm-hmm ..." Skyla dug through her bag and pulled out a few singles and held them out to Gia.
"Don't worry about it." Ignoring the money, as she always did with Skyla, Gia glanced up at the TV. A clip of Ron Parker working the crowd at last week's campaign event played in the background while a news anchor rambled on about the election.
"You didn't answer, Mom. Why do you dislike Mitch Anderson so much?"
Skyla dropped the money on the counter, as she always did after Gia refused to take it, then turned to Willow. "Do you want to sit here all day arguing politics, or do you want to eat lunch and go shopping?"
Nice dodge. Maybe Skyla should have been the politician.
"Definitely shopping." Willow took the last bite of her muffin, hopped off the stool, and rounded the counter to grab her purse. "I'll come in a little early tomorrow to help prep since it's Saturday. Thanks for giving me the afternoon off, Gia."
"And thanks for covering for me, Savannah."
"Anytime, kiddo. Have fun."
"Thanks." Willow smiled, waved, and held the door for her mother before bouncing through after her.
Savannah looked after them for a moment, then turned to Gia. The corners of her mouth turned up slightly, but there was no mistaking the sadness in her eyes.
Gia had no doubt Savannah's thoughts were running along the same line hers had earlier. Both of them had lost their mothers when they were young. Only difference was, Savannah grew up surrounded by family who adored her. Gia grew up alone, unless you counted the father who threw her out the day she graduated high school.
Gia waited until they were gone, then leaned close to Savannah. "Skyla seemed a little off today, don't you think?"
"Definitely, but I didn't want to push it in the middle of the café," Savannah said.
"No, me neither, but if I get a chance, I'll try to talk to her." And if the opportunity didn't present itself, Gia would make time to talk to her. Whatever may be wrong, she certainly wasn't acting like herself.CHAPTER 2
Friday morning started off pretty much the same way Thursday morning had ended, with Savannah and Earl bickering over politics. When Gia couldn't listen to it any longer, she strode through the dining room, shut the TV off, and stuck the remote beneath the counter. "Enough already. I could hear you two arguing from the kitchen."
Earl opened his mouth to protest, but Gia cut him off. "Isn't there anything else going on in this town beside the election?"
"There's a craft fair in two weeks." Savannah's perkiness returned at the mention of a fair. "It's running from Sunday to Wednesday. Want to go?"
"Sure." Gia had been wanting to attend a fair for a while, but they usually fell on weekends, her busiest time in the café. Since she was closed on Mondays, it would work out perfectly. "Can I bring Thor?"
"Of course. I bring my dogs all the time."
"All of them?" Savannah had like four or five dogs at Gia's last count.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "A Cold Brew Killing"
Copyright © 2018 Lena Gregory.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A small-town homicide puzzles café owner Gia and her friend Savannah, while it sets the rest of the town on edge. As Gia sets out to prove her accused friend innocent, gradually a picture forms of the murky past that lead to the truth coming out. I liked how much time the main character, Gia, spent working in her cafe. I also appreciated how her routine was explained and the food was made to sound so appetizing. I think I would like to visit the All-Day Breakfast Café when life is quiet. By the end of the book, I just felt like I was in mourning for a certain group of friends. I wished they had had someone they could have turned to who would have helped them deal with life better. I also wanted to see Hunt spend a little more attention on Gia. It seemed he was an all or nothing guy, and sometimes she got nothing. I will be looking to see how the next books in the series develop the characters and town. Quotable: ”Sometimes you didn’t need a friend to interfere; sometimes you needed them to stand by while you made a mess of your life, then jump in and pick up the pieces.” I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. No positive review was required and all opinions are solely my own.
Murder in a Small Town This cozy mystery in the third in a series. It stands alone well, but the story will be better for the reader if they have read the first two installments. The plot is great! There are all sorts of motives and suspects and secrets that go way back. It keeps the reader guessing! I enjoyed it and want to read more of this author's books. I received this book for free and this is my honest review.
a fast paced mystery that holds particular relevance in today's world A COLD BREW KILLING by Lena Gregory The Third All-Day Breakfast Café Mystery Gia Morelli has had it with politics! She's tired of Earl and Savannah bickering over the upcoming mayoral election and concerned with Skyla's reaction to one of the candidates. The election is thrown a curve when Trevor finds one of the men murdered in his ice cream parlor's freezer. Gia is certain of Trevor's innocence, but she soon discovers there's much more to him than she realized. More and more people are acting angry and scared and Gia soon realizes that all of them were friends in high school. Something that happened back then must be the root of the current murder, but what? Can you ever escape your past? Should people be made accountable for past transgressions? Can people really change? The third All-Day Breakfast Café provides a fascinating look at these questions from a variety of angles. The themes explored are particularly relevant today, in relation to entitled young men, politics, and those who seek justice. I love how the basis of the mystery was created in the past, a past about which Gia is totally unfamiliar. Gia's reacting without thinking and her jitteriness still annoys me, but her dedication, loyalty, and devotion to friends makes me like her. Her negative habits are slowly abating and I enjoy seeing her grow as a person. I'm also excited to see the development of some of the secondary characters, Cybil in particular. A COLD BREW KILLING is a fast paced mystery that holds particular relevance in today's world. It's important to stand up for what you believe in and trust that your friends and family will support you. And remember family doesn't have to be blood, we can make our own family with those friends we hold dear. FTC Disclosure – The publisher sent me a digital ARC provided through NetGalley, in the hopes I would review it.
This is the third book of the All-Day Breakfast Café Mystery series and my second with the series and author. All the special characters are back including protagonist Gia and her BFF Savannah Mills, possible heart-throb and acting captain Hunter Quinn, owner of the Storm Scoopers, Trevor Barnes, and Thor, a Bernese Mountain dog, who is definitely growing into his paws. I think my favorite support staff, however, is Earl (first customer ALWAYS in the morning) along with Cole, who works the grill in this Boggy Creek, Florida cafe. Arriving early to greet her staff, Gia is confronted by Trevor who has discovered a man in his walk-in freezer. Frozen, of course. Trevor is a good buddy and she positively, absolutely knows Trevor couldn't have done it, but you know he'll get hauled in any way, setting her up for some sleuthing. The well-plotted and engaging storyline delves into political headlines with candidates unfit to win and the games they played in high school. The author puts quite a spin on the conspiracy and includes a number of red herrings. I love the little parts with Thor, who still thinks he's a lap-puppy. And the dialogue is very natural. Gia has collected a solid group of homebodies willing to cover her back and given her early childhood is just what she needs--driving home a theme of family. The conclusion wraps up all the loose ends that seamlessly include a small subplot. My only complaint is the heavy description of food service, although I must admit she sounds like a well-choreographed juggler. The town reads like small town USA and the area lends a comfortable sense. The author has put together a solid group of main and support characters with stories that can be read as a standalone. I was given this ebook download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciate the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for southern cozy mystery readers and those who enjoy the adventures of women sleuths.
Each book in this series gets better and better as I become more invested in the characters. This one has fun elements but the mystery was gut-grabbing for several reasons. The only one that I can share without providing spoilers is the fact that people that I have come to love seem to be involved in murder; Gia, of course, has the same issue. Nothing can keep her out of the investigation that seems to affect two of her close friends. The background of the story could have come from almost any time in the last 60 years but it is the present that has Travis arrested for murder!
Some people said that crime increased once Gia Morelli moved to Florida. This time, she did not bring it, but crime is dropped right at her doorway. All the wonderful crowd from her breakfast cafe are included as this mystery revived from the past regenerates in Gia's neighborhood and friends circle. A timely novel as there are political elections nearing and none of the candidates are fit for office. This all seem to be taking a toll on Skyla and Trevor is taken in as a person of interest in a murder. Gia and Savannah are supposed to take a few days of vacation, but what should be a ''5 minute stop" takes them in a new direction. Of course this all takes a toll on Gia's budding romance as well. Action packed, tense and timely, this book has something for every adrenaline junkie!
How appropriate for this book to release on Election Day, since part of the plot revolves around a local election for mayor. Don’t worry though – politics isn’t the focus. Instead, it’s a cozy mystery that also celebrates the bonds of friendship in many different ways. Which is what I love most about this series. Gia has grown so much as a character since the first book, and she seems to finally be settling in to the quaint Florida town and her all-day breakfast cafe. While she rallies around her friend Trevor – who is falsely accused of murder – her friends rally around her, watching out for her and pitching in at the cafe when needed. There’s a slight romance thread but it’s definitely in the background, and there are also a couple of intriguing subplots involving some of the supporting characters. I loved spending more time with Cybil in this book, and of course i can’t forget to highlight Gia’s adorable dog Troy. He’s such a sweetie! Bottom Line: A Cold Brew Killing is another great read in the All-Day Breakfast Cafe series! Gia continues to be a compelling – and evolving – character and her friendships are the highlight of the non-mystery portion of the book. The mystery itself is well-plotted with several layers and twists. Looking forward to more adventures with Gia and her gang! (I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book)
Breakfast café owner Gia Morelli finds her good friend, Trevor, is the most likely suspect in the murder of a local mayoral candidate. She is certain of Trevor's innocence but she discovers there is a lot she does not know about him. It seems that secrets from the past have more to do with the murder than the candidate's current political life. At the beginning of the story it was a bit of a challenge to keep track of the large cast of characters but they proved to be necessary to the story. It did become much easier to keep track of who was who after the initial introductions. I enjoyed how the story unfolded and it had a good flow with everything tying together at the end. This is the third All-Day Breakfast Café Mystery book. It could be read as a stand alone but it might be easier to keep track the all the characters if you have read at least one of the other two books.
Likable characters, clever plot twists and quirky cozy elements make A Cold Brew Killing a worthy read! Gia, a transplant from New York, runs a breakfast diner in sunny Florida. When the dead body of a local politician mysteriously turns up in the freezer of her flirtatious friend’s ice cream parlor, Gia is pulled into investigating the perplexing homicide. The story flows at a perfect pace and unfolds smoothly. The All-Day Breakfast Café Mystery series is delightfully fun and engaging and will leave you “hungering” for more in the series.
A Cold Brew Killing (All-Day Breakfast Cafe Mystery #3) by Lena Gregory is a delightful cozy mystery. I liked the characters of Gia and Savannah and their friendship, and I enjoyed the cafe setting. The characters in the book are interesting and didn't distract from the overall storyline. I especially enjoyed the character of Willow. I hope she is featured more in future books. And also, Thor, Gia's dog; love books with cute dogs! I look forward to reading more of this series and this author. I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley and am voluntarily leaving an honest review.