Death Before Decaf: A Java Jive Mystery

Death Before Decaf: A Java Jive Mystery

by Caroline Fardig

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Death Before Decaf: A Java Jive Mystery by Caroline Fardig

USA TODAY BESTSELLER • Caroline Fardig’s captivating mystery novel takes readers behind the counter of a seemingly run-of-the-mill coffeehouse . . . where murder is brewing.
After her music career crashes and burns spectacularly, Juliet Langley is forced to turn to the only other business she knows: food service. Unfortunately, bad luck strikes yet again when her two-timing fiancé robs her blind and runs off with her best waitress. Flushing what’s left of her beloved café down the toilet with her failed engagement, Juliet packs up and moves back to her college stomping grounds in Nashville to manage an old friend’s coffeehouse. At first glance, it seems as though nothing’s changed at Java Jive. What could possibly go wrong? Only that the place is hemorrhaging money, the staff is in open revolt, and Juliet finds one unlucky employee dead in the dumpster out back before her first day is even over.
The corpse just so happens to belong to the cook who’d locked horns with Juliet over the finer points of the health code. Unimpressed with her management style, the other disgruntled employees are only too eager to spill the beans about her fiery temper to the detective on the case. Add to the mix a hunky stranger who’s asking way too many questions, and suddenly Juliet finds herself in some very hot water. If she can’t simmer down and sleuth her way to the real killer, she’s going to get burned.

Praise for Death Before Decaf
“I was hooked from the first page. I loved it!”—Dorothy Cannell, award-winning author of the Ellie Haskell mysteries

“Caroline Fardig brings a fun cast of characters to life in Death Before Decaf! Juliet had me laughing, smiling, and rooting for her from the first page to the last. I can’t wait for more!”—Gina LaManna, author of Teased to Death
“Caroline Fardig keeps you turning pages in this fast-paced mystery set in a Nashville coffee shop.”—Nancy J. Parra, author of Engaged in Murder

“With a fair share of twists, turns, and a murderer I did not suspect, Fardig delivers a caffeinated romp and a promising start to the Java Jive mystery series.”—Book Club Librarian
“A delightfully charming mystery with humor, suspense and a cast of characters to die for.”—Moonlight Rendezvous
“I can see this being a series to help bring a younger audience to the cozy mystery genre.”—Musings and Ramblings
“[Juliet’s] temper plus a good sense of humor make her a great series protagonist, someone readers would actually like to befriend.”—Mallory Heart Reviews
“This book had me hopping from murder to love interest and back to criminal activities.”—Storeybook Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780804181303
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/17/2015
Series: Java Jive Series , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 296
Sales rank: 31,163
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Caroline Fardig is the USA Today bestselling author of the Java Jive mystery series and the Lizzie Hart mystery series. Fardig’s Bad Medicine was named one of the best books of 2015 by Suspense Magazine. She worked as a schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Fardig still lives in that same town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

Read an Excerpt


I hate college kids. From their unwashed righteousness to their impossibly naïve view of the “real world,” they really piss me off. So, on the eve of my thirtieth birthday, what did I do? I went and moved into a craphole apartment building full of the little buggers. Oh, and I took a job at a university-area coffeehouse, so that I could serve them, too. Brilliant idea. Truly brilliant.

Now, why would I go and do a stupid thing like that, you ask? Necessity. I was broke. It was either move in with my parents (again), or accept a job from an old friend and strike out on my own, penniless. I would choose loneliness and poverty over suffocation and nagging any day. Not that my parents aren’t wonderful people, because they are. It’s just that I can’t stand living under the same roof with them.

So here I was, back in Nashville, in my old college stomping grounds. I have a degree in vocal performance from Belmont, but that doesn’t do a person with paralyzing, all-consuming stage fright much good. That was why I took the job at my friend Pete’s coffeehouse, because you can’t be a teacher or a lawyer or a rocket scientist with a vocal music degree. You can, however, be a damn good restaurant manager, which I am. Well, if you don’t count the time my dickhead fiancé stole all of the money from the café we owned together and left town with my best waitress.

Life has given me lemons. What’s a girl to do? I’m going to make some coffee.
Chapter 1

The moment I set foot inside Java Jive, I felt like I was home. The place looked exactly the same as it had the first time I walked through the door over ten years ago, and the pervasive aroma of freshly brewed coffee still hung heavy in the air. My longtime best friend, Pete Bennett, was even behind the counter, wiping up a spill and throwing a towel over his shoulder exactly like he always did. When he looked up and smiled at me, a wave of nostalgia hit me like a ton of bricks, and I was immediately transported back to the first time we met.

At that time, I was nineteen and a freshman at Belmont University. My parents had given me exactly five hundred dollars of spending money for the entirety of my freshman year. Needless to say, it was long gone before Christmas break, and I was in desperate need of a job. I answered a “help wanted” ad posted on campus for a local coffeehouse, Java Jive, and scheduled an interview with the owner. Besides babysitting, I had never had a job before. To say that I was nervous would have been a heinous understatement.

I walked in the door, and a boy from school was standing behind the counter, wiping up a spill. I had a huge crush on him, but I hadn’t known he worked here. All I knew was that his name was Pete and that he was dreamy, with his spiky black hair and ever-present smile. He threw the towel over his shoulder and greeted me, “Hi, what can I get you?”

“Oh, um . . . nothing . . .” Back then, I tended to get flustered easily.

He frowned. “Then I’m going to have to ask you to leave. We have a strict ‘no loitering’ policy here.”

My face went scarlet. Getting kicked out of the joint was not the way to begin an interview. “No, I . . . I’m here for . . .”

Breaking into a grin, he said, “I’m just yanking your chain. I know who you are.”

Wide-eyed, I asked, “You do?” How could he possibly have known me? He was a year ahead of me, and we didn’t have any classes together. Plus, I was still dealing with homesickness, so I wasn’t overly outgoing—not what you’d call big man on campus, or whatever the female equivalent of that is.

“Sure. You’re Juliet.” He then broke into song, his voice throaty and pitch-perfect: “‘Juliet. Oh, Juliet. The night was magic when we first met.’”

My blush deepened as I tried desperately not to grin like an idiot at the fact that Dreamy Pete was serenading me. That was no easy feat for a lonely nineteen-year-old girl, but I managed to choke out, “I’m, um, here for an . . . interview.”

His face turned serious. “Yeah, about that. My pop—he’s the owner—usually does those, but he had to run and pick up my little sister from dance class. You’re stuck with me.”

I remember thinking how awesome it would be to have Dreamy Pete all to myself for a while. But then the reality hit me that I’d have to be able to form a complete sentence around him (if I wanted the job, that is). Before my brain had a chance to catch up, I blurted, “I’d like to be stuck with you,” and immediately cringed.

He smiled again. “That’s good enough for me. You’re hired.”

My mouth dropped open. “That’s it? You don’t want to know about my job history or work ethic? Or if I’m an axe murderer or anything?”

Chuckling, he answered, “You don’t look like an axe murderer to me. And if you’re terrible at the job, Pop will fire you. Deal?”


“Great. Wanna hang out with me and have some coffee?”

I couldn’t believe my luck. What were the odds I’d meet my crush and get a job working with him and get invited to hang out with him, all in under five minutes? That night we talked for hours, staying long after the coffeehouse closed. It was the first time since I had left home that I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

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Death Before Decaf: A Java Jive Mystery 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
Bookworm1951 More than 1 year ago
I had high hopes for this series but was quite disappointed. The main character is supposed to be 30 yrs old but acts and talks like a teenager. Very immature. She's rude to her love interests; has frequent temper tantrums and has a rather snarky personality with a vulgar mouth. She finds a body in a dumptster outside the cafe. Questioned by police but never accused of anything, she ssomehow feels she is the best person to solve this mystery. With no prior detective or police experience, she plows forward making mistake after bumbling mistake. She won't listen to advice from anyone. A very unlikeable character. Contained a good amount of sexual inuendo and crude language The frequent references to TV show characters got old real fast. A fair amount of editing erors. Just didn't like the style of writing.
gaele More than 1 year ago
AudioBook Review: Stars: Overall 3 Narration 3 Story 2 Intrigued by the premise, I was hoping for a story that was cleverly plotted, keeping me interested in the characters and the twists and turns for this down on her luck, unlucky in love heroine Juliet. After a spectacular disaster of a music career, and desperately in need of funds, she poured all of her money into a café. Things were looking up until her fiancé ran off with her money and her best waitress – leaving her in the lurch. Old friend / crush / former employer offers a management gig at his café, one that is struggling financially and needs some work. So Juliet moves, drags out her “red-headed She Devil” alter ego and heads off to take up the revision of Java Jive. But by the end of the first day – the employees hate her, she and the chef have had huge issues, and oh yeah – he’s toes up in the dumpster. Who did it – why – and just how will the inept police force ever solve the murder unless she jumps in and investigates? Well – it was interesting, if wholly annoying at times. I don’t see the comparisons in the blurb working, mostly due to the lack of nuance and depth in characterization – bad guys were bad, good guys were good, and the two never quite met in the middle when Juliet, with her impulsive, brash and often thoughtless wandering put her in danger just as she stumbled onto clues and possible leads. Nuance is important, and when it is lacking, the characters become little more than caricatures and had me rolling my eyes more than once. Light yes, but amusing and engaging not so much –a bit frenetic, without my ever thinking that Juliet had any clues: I saw the culprit long before she did, and her pathway to the answer didn’t feel carefully plotted or planned. When you add in a love triangle (why?!!!) and some truly Benny Hill moments, this was a struggle to find a reason to be intrigued. Narration was provided by Callie Beaulieu, and the first time I’d encountered her work. While we don’t have a solid (she is X years old) for Juliet (at least not that I remember) her personality leads me to think far younger than the voice of the narrator would suggest. While it was a workmanlike narration, and characters were easy to distinguish, accents and tempo were decidedly missing, seeming to emphasize consistency and adding humor rather than telling the story. It wasn’t horrible, and I can see why she’s frequently narrated titles that trend to self-help and non-fiction, as her enunciation is clear and reasonably precise, less adapted to fiction and fast-paced banter so integral to entertainment. Overall – if you aren’t expecting nuanced characters or a twisty story, with a narration that demands you pay attention to not miss anything, you’ll find this fits your needs. As it stands, I’m not intrigued enough to continue with the series. I received an AudioBook copy of the title from Tantor Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
franklymydear More than 1 year ago
the woman in this story is supposed to be about 30 and hates college students. AND she is working with them and serving them in an espresso bar in a college town??? Her attitude toward them and many other people comes off as a real downer with negativity and sarcasm. I'm not looking for saccharine empty headed bliss but this was a bit much. Snark and irony where there is also liking for people is great. That's not the case here. Both "love interests" are hunky/handsome but keep coming across as a bit sappy or underhanded. The author is more a grandmother's age and it shows in the attitudes. And no, i'm not a college student...that was a few decades past.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the story line and the characters. Looking forward to the next book!
GratefulGrandma More than 1 year ago
I had read the third book in this series some time ago and decided to go back to the beginning. I am glad I did. It introduced us to the characters and gave us some information about their past relationships. This was told using flashbacks and it filled in the details nicely. Juliet Langley, has returned to Nashville after losing her cafe. She is going to manage Java Jive owned by her best friend Pete. Gertie, Pete's grandmother who raised him, is a lot of the comic relief in this story, I absolutely loved her character. Seth, is a regular at the cafe that seems to have fallen for Juliet, although he picked up quickly on the fact that she has deeper feelings for Pete than just friendship. The story is a cozy murder mystery, where Juliet is one of the suspects. As in any cozy, she decides that in order to clear her name, she needs to investigate on her own. What she does, and what she finds will make you laugh one minute, then worry about her the next. She seems to be alienating much of the staff at the cafe while investigating, although she is not doing it intentionally. There are many laugh out loud moments in this story, including the funeral of the murder victim. The plot is well developed and includes intrigue, suspicion and especially danger. The twist at the end was great, and I was not expecting it at all. This book has something for everyone, a mystery, humour, some romance, food and drink as well as human dynamics. I am now going to continue to read this series and see what else Juliet gets herself into.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BarbaraLyn More than 1 year ago
This is a book for those nights when you want to read a good book and enjoy your time. It has two main characters, Juliet Langley and Pete Bennett. Pete owns Java Jive, a coffee house in Nashville and Juliet has taken the position as manager. They have been friends since forever. As Juliet, better known as Jules, settles into the job, she is closing the coffee house and takes out the garbage. Unfortunately, she finds more than just garbage in the dumpster. One of her employees, who she had words with earlier in the day, is what she finds. The police are called. Of course, she is the main suspect for the killing but no one really thinks she did it. Jules decides that the police are not looking anywhere else for the killer so she begins to look into why he was killed. Between Pete and his girlfriend, the police and the employees at Java Jive, there is plenty of action and speculation on “who dun it”. This is the kind of book that I didn’t want to put down. Reading when I should have been sleeping was the norm until I go to the end of the book. The ending leaves a perfect set-up for another book. This is the first in a four-book series. I can’t wait to pick up the next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Solid mystery, good pacing, humor, romance, and interesting characters all combine for an excellent book. Gertie makes me miss my Grandma-- she was unorthodox, hilarious, and wonderful, too.
Dianne57 More than 1 year ago
Whoever thought to compare this author to Janet Evanovich or Diane Mott Davidson has surely never read a book by either one of these authors. I do have to admit though, that the similarities to Evanovich's books are eerily similar: a choice of two men, a crazy elderly woman, sarcasm...need Need I say more? I've made it (and with great difficulty) to the 50% mark. Though some readers think that this book gets better later on, I won't try to get any further. A book and its characters should attract you from the start or at least pique your curiosity and pull you in. This story line and the main characters did none of that for me. I found the main character of Juliet Langley to be a whiny,immature, overly impulsive and fairly ignorant character. One with a loud and foul mouth who is trying too hard to act like she is 20 instead of a mature 30. She grated on my nerves from the very first full chapter. In what I did manage to read, I found absolutely nothing humorous and nothing that compelled me to finish this book and to see who the murderer is. ARC supplied by publisher.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
csrsvivr More than 1 year ago
Juliet Langley has to “suck” it up after a fiancé cleans her out of her home and business. She returns to Nashville to manage a coffeehouse/café for her best friend Pete. Many things need to be corrected in this coffeehouse/café, but first item is replacing the chef who is murdered. Then she needs to find out who the man pretending to be a professor really is and why he keeps pursuing her. Juliet still has unresolved love interest in her best friend Pete as well. How will it end? Very good read!
Bev_Ash More than 1 year ago
This is the first book in what I think will be a great series. I am so glad that I received this ARC from NetGalley for a free review. I loved all the characters, even the not so nice ones. They were all well developed and had their own voice. This book is funny and romantic with just enough suspense and action thrown in to give it that extra zing. I enjoyed this book so much I quickly started started on the second one.
Sodapop74 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!!! This was by far one of the funniest mysteries I have read in a long time! Juliet is a great character! She is smart mouthed, foul mouthed and has a temper! I loved her! All of the characters are well written and the mystery is very good. I figured out about half of it, but then I was thrown a curve ball, which I love. Pete is cute and then there is someone else she meets. I hate spoilers so that is all I am saying. I have already per-ordered the next book and I can not wait to read it!!!
carol223CS More than 1 year ago
Caroline Fardig's Deatg Before Decaf Great mystery blended with suspense, intrigue, adventure, danger, many twists and turns plus humorous shenanigans and romance. Juliet Langley is back in her college town of Nashville. She returned here after her fiancé fleeced her out of all her money and personal belongings then ran off with the head waitress. Juliet has nothing. Juliet is returning to the job she had during college. Juliet is working for Peter, the son of the deceased owner for whom she had work. She will be Manager of the Java Jive while Peter returns to own career in music. The staff is very lackadaisical so Juliet stress her restaurant rules. Dave, the cook rebels and leaves. Juliet helps out by working the counter. This is where she encounters sexy Seth who Peter’s grandmother, Gertie thinks Is hot. What will happen between Juliet and Seth? Who is he behind his façade? Taking out the trash, Juliet discovers Dave in the dumpster. He is dead!!! Who killed Dave? Is Juliet the prime suspect? Feisty, quirky, well thought out characters in a twisting plot makes for an excellent read. Thank you to Alibi via Net Gallery for this eBook. My opinion is my own.
Splashesintobooks1 More than 1 year ago
What a brilliant, light hearted read this is, despite being a murder mystery! Just great for when you’ve had enough of darker reads but still want something with a great plot, humour and plenty of intrigue in a well written, page-turner story. I was impressed by how the author used flashbacks to fill in the history of the main characters, Juliet and Peter, explaining their re-connection and Juliet’s return to Nashville and his business. Gertie is another brilliantly portrayed stalwart character in the Java Jive and her ‘boyfriend’ is the third in the love triangle for Juliet and Peter, though he really is a mystery in his own right for much of the story. There are many laugh out loud moments in this story, especially (would you believe it!) at the funeral of the murdered victim. The well thought out plot carries the suspicion, danger and intrigue throughout the story and the ending and big reveal of the perpetrators was a twist I hadn’t been anticipating. I really enjoyed this great mystery with suspense, thrills and romance all encapsulated in an enthralling, laugh out loud, entertaining and well developed story. This is the first of a new series and I will certainly be looking out for further stories in the series and others by this author. I have no hesitation in highly recommending it to anyone who enjoys any of the genres. Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley, too, for letting me read an ARC of this book in exchange for this, an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a cute story. Made me smile and I know I will enjoy the next book in this new series.
IanWood More than 1 year ago
Perhaps the biggest problem with this novel, for me, however, was complete lack of authenticity when Juliet takes up the detective baton and runs with it. She's not been accused of a thing, much less charged with anything, but she decides she's the best person to figure this out and starts taking all kinds of risky actions, and worse, forcing Peter to partner up with her in her crazy quest. There was absolutely no motivation for this. Yes, the detective had given her some straight talk and told her she was a person of interest, but she'd hardly been handcuffed and hauled in for questioning. Rest of review can be found on Ian Wood's Novellum
laKa0711 More than 1 year ago
This book was the perfect mix of all things cozy. Bumbling main character constantly finding herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, witty side characters, mystery, intrigue, a hunky secretive man, and romantic tension, not to mention a coffeehouse! I loved it. I was kept guessing from start to end about what the actual crime was and who committed it. I liked the dynamic between main characters, Juliet, and her partner/friend, Pete. Great cozy mystery book. I'm looking forward to the next one in the series. I'm really interested to see where the story goes from here! Check out my full review at
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very good read which I enjoyed immensely. The main character (Red Headed She-Devil)while believable and feisty is also down to earth. While she may make mistakes she is also capable of learning from them. This is the first book in what will become a successful series. The author shows she is able to connect with the average reader without insulting their intelligence. I gave this book a four star rating and would recommend it to anyone looking for a light and funny mystery. I received an ARC from Netgalley for my unbiased review.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
Death Before Decaf by Caroline Fardig is A Java Jive Mystery novel. Juliet Langley is turning thirty years old and is returning home to Nashville. Juliet is a lovely singer, but unable to perform because of severe stage fright. Juliet was running a café of her own until her scum bag (pardon my language) fiancé cleaned out her accounts, apartment, and left town with the café’s best waitress. Juliet has gotten a job as manager of the Java Jive where she worked while she was in college. On her first day Juliet has a run in with the chef, Dave (who likes to violate the health codes). The next thing you know Dave is dead behind Java Jive. Juliet is told by Detective Cromwell (of the MNPD) that she is a person of interest. Juliet sets out to prove her innocence (no matter what the consequences). Pete Bennett (who owns the Java Jive) who is Juliet’s best friend helps her clear her name. Juliet also gets help from Seth Davis, a professor from the college, who has been hanging out at Java Jive. Pete distrusts Seth (he has good instincts), but Juliet refuses to listen (especially since she cannot stand Pete’s girlfriend who is her arch nemesis). Will Juliet be able to clear her name and find the culprit (and stay alive)? I liked the mystery in Death Before Decaf. It was not as easy to solve as I thought it would be. It was more complicated which I enjoyed (I like difficult puzzles). I did not enjoy the foul language or the sex in the book. I like to read cozy mysteries because they do not contain bad language (there are many creative alternatives) or overt sex (I am not a prude. I just get tired of it being shoved in our faces). I give Death Before Decaf 3 out of 5 stars. A good start to a new series. I am hoping the next book will be much better (I am trying to be optimistic). I received a complimentary copy of Death Before Decaf from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JuliaAD More than 1 year ago
I really liked this mystery. It kept me guessing through the whole book. I had several ideas, but was only half right. Juliet has to take a job managing a coffeehouse for her old friend Pete. During her first day on the job, she finds a dead body. It just happens to be the cook that she argued with. Juliet and Pete have several adventures as they try to find out who murdered the man. Juliet meets a good looking man who isn't everything that he seems to be. My favorite part is the funeral. Loved it.
Judy-Ree More than 1 year ago
I was drawn to this book after reading the blurb - Music and Coffee? Set in Nashville? Okay, not something I've seen before, so count me in. I really felt for Juliet. Losing her own cafe and having to fall back on her best friend Pete, for assistance. Okay, yes, he really did need her to manage his late father's coffeehouse. But there she was, basically right back where she started, and with very little to show for her years of hard work. On her birthday no less. Oh, and she's living what in what amounts to a dorm room again. It doesn't totally excuse some of the crazy schemes that she comes up with (and talks Pete into), but it does speak to her frame of mind. Juliet blames a lot on her red haired temper, and okay, yes, that plays a part too. One of the things that I really like about this book was the realistic way running and working in food service was shown. It's long hours and a lot of work, especially when you are the boss. None of Juliet's sleuthing dramatically cut into her time at the business, and yet she still had time to sleep at night. I have seen other author's struggle with juggling the time management of the daily life in addition to their detective work. This was skillfully done. I wasn't sure how I felt about the bit of love triangle going on. Juliet states from the beginning that she has been carrying a hidden torch for Pete, but doesn't want to ruin their friendship. Plus, he is currently in a long term relationship. Juliet manages to hook up with someone, but it feels very much like just a short term hook up. Since this isn't a romance, but a cozy mystery, I feel that it isn't a spoiler to say that there is no HEA, and even a small bit of a cliffhanger concerning her love life at the very end. This book had a young vibe to it; partially due to being set near 2 college campuses, I'm sure. But also because of the mindset of Juliet and her fresh start. I can see this being a series to help bring a younger audience to the cozy mystery genre. I enjoyed the book and gave it 3 stars, though I hope to see more of the music aspect in the coming books. Thanks to Netgalley, Alibi and Great Escapes for the opportunity to read and review this book.
weluvdopey More than 1 year ago
Great Book! This is a great book; this is the first book in the A Java Jive Mystery series by Caroline Fardig. Juliet Langley has had terrible luck lately, she thinks it’s about to change when she gets the chance to manage an old friends coffeehouse in Nashville. When she finds an employee dead in the dumpster on her first day, it is up to her to put her sleuthing skills to the test to find the killer. I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series. A Review copy was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. The free book held no determination on my personal review.
Crystal61 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this story, the suspense, the danger, and the humor. Following Juliet as she returns to town and accepts a job from her best friend (and secret crush) turns into a bumpy ride. She is so naive and somehow misses things right under her nose, and this makes her so sweet. A mysterious man catches her attention, and some hot fun ensues. Her best friend, Pete, is in denial about his feelings for Juliet as she is about her feelings for him. All the romance is entwined around the murder mystery and all the dangerous adventures. The solution is rather unexpected, and I loved it. I had a chance to read this in exchange for an honest review through Netgalley.