As a newly minted private eye, Juliet Langley has sworn to leave homicide to the authorities, limiting the scope of her investigations to cheating spouses and dirty business partners . . . like her ex-fiancé, Scott O’Malley. When Scott shows up unannounced at her coffeehouse, Java Jive, Juliet’s first instinct is to punch him in the nose. Her second is to turn down his desperate plea for help with a case that’s way too dangerous for her liking. But when Scott drops dead before her eyes, Juliet isn’t going to wait around for someone else to clear her name.
It’s only a matter of time before her tumultuous past with her ex-fiancé comes out, so Juliet teams up with her ex-boyfriend, police detective Ryder Hamilton, to figure out who poisoned Scott. They soon confirm that Scott was involved in an illegal scheme that’s definitely grounds for concern.
Just as romance is finally beginning to percolate for Juliet and her best friend, Pete Bennett, she has no choice but to head back to her hometown to seek out the truth. And she’ll need help from the locals to find the real killer—otherwise her happily ever after could easily end up including an actual ball and chain.
Caroline Fardig’s thrilling Java Jive mysteries can be read together or separately:
DEATH BEFORE DECAF | MUG SHOT | A WHOLE LATTE MURDER | BREW OR DIE | MURDER OVER MOCHAS
“I was hooked from the first page. I loved it!”—Dorothy Cannell, award-winning author of the Ellie Haskell mysteries, on Death Before Decaf
“This series is delightful, well written, and wildly entertaining.”—Suspense Magazine
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
“You want me to go where with you?” I asked, arching one eyebrow and hoping I’d misheard over the din of chattering customers, sputtering espresso machines, and mellow jazz music inside the Java Jive Coffeehouse.
“The gun and knife show,” Ryder repeated.
Unfortunately, I hadn’t misheard. I wiped at a coffee stain on the counter between us while I tried to invent a polite excuse as to why I couldn’t go. Unable to come up with anything nice, I blurted out the only thing that came to mind. “Hard pass.”
His face fell. “Why don’t you want to go with me?”
I pretended to think. “Um . . . let me see . . .” I started ticking off the reasons on my fingers. “I hate guns. Knives aren’t much better. Oh, and I always have to do boy stuff with you, and you never do girl stuff with me.”
His brow furrowed as he took a sip of his coffee. “Boy stuff?”
“Yeah. You know—hiking, going to the gun range, going to the gym, watching sports. In all fairness, Maya should have to take some of those activities. I shouldn’t have to shoulder the boy stuff alone.” My closest girlfriend, Maya Huxley, was dating my ex-boyfriend-turned-friend, Ryder Hamilton.
“Maya and I are at a point in our relationship where I still need to woo her a little. You, I don’t need to woo.”
Didn’t I know it. I’d kind of fallen for Ryder again a few months back after he took a bullet trying to save my life. I’d been working really hard to put my feelings for him out of my mind, especially since he was dating my friend, who was also sort of my boss at my second job. My life had become quite the tangled web.
“Still not fair.”
He shrugged. “You have plenty of friends who’ll do girl stuff with you. Besides, my ‘boy stuff,’ as you call it, is good for you. Character building.”
“How exactly does looking at a gazillion boring guns and knives build character? If I don’t feel the overwhelming urge to use one to off myself during the show, then I’m a better person for it?”
His handsome face fighting a grin, he said, “Your brand of logic leaves something to be desired sometimes, Juliet.”
I rolled my eyes at him and went to go grab a carafe so I could freshen his coffee. When I came back and began to top off his mug, a familiar voice saying, “Hey, Juliet,” startled me so much my hand jerked and splashed coffee all over the counter. I glanced up, just past Ryder’s shoulder, and when I laid eyes on the owner of that voice, my blood began to boil.
“Scott,” I spat out between gritted teeth.
In the time it took Ryder to say, “Hey, you okay?” I had already flown around the side of the counter. I headed straight for Scott, whose face was a picture of apprehension with a slight hint of terror, as well it should have been.
He stammered, “J-Juliet, I know it’s sudden for me to—to show up here, but I need your help.”
In my blind rage, I didn’t process a word he said. Instead, I came at him, shouting, “You son of a bitch!” Then I reeled my fist back and slammed it straight into his nose.
Amid a chorus of gasps from my horrified staff and customers, Scott groaned in pain and covered his nose with his hands.
“Whoa, whoa!” Ryder yelled, jumping off his stool and grabbing me around the waist just in time to keep me from lunging at Scott again.
Struggling to get free, I cried, “Let me go! I’m not finished with him.”
“Oh, yes you are,” Ryder replied, literally dragging me out of the room full of staring faces.
I fought him all the way back to Java Jive’s office, where he finally released me but stood guard in front of the closed door. My whole body shaking with unbridled anger, I couldn’t do anything but glare at him.
He was unfazed by my tantrum. “What the hell was that?” he asked calmly.
“Scott,” I managed to choke out.
His eyebrows shot up. “Your ex-fiancé, Scott?”
I nodded, still breathing heavily.
“The one who stole all your money and everything you owned and left you with a dying café, Scott?”
“That’s the one.”
His expression softening, he walked over and enveloped me in a hug. “Now I get why you went full Hulk on him. I probably would have done the same thing in your shoes.” He let me go but held my gaze with his intense blue eyes. “But I wouldn’t have assaulted him in front of a police officer and a room full of witnesses. Rookie mistake.”
I smiled in spite of myself. “I’m hoping the police officer in question will cut me some slack, especially since he’s off duty.”
Ryder had been “off duty” for a few months now as he recovered from a gunshot wound that had shattered the bone in his upper arm. Not one to sit around and do nothing while waiting for his doctor and the department to clear him and reinstate his full active status, he’d been keeping himself busy by helping Maya and me with our private investigation business. It had really broadened my investigative skills to work with an actual police detective.
“Yeah, I can do that. But I think you should go talk to the guy.”
I let out a bark of laughter. “Like hell I will.” I hadn’t seen or spoken to Scott since he’d walked out on me over a year ago. I didn’t want to start now.
“I’m serious. Did you hear what he said before you clocked him?”
“He said he needed your help.”
“I’ll help him out the door.”
Ryder smiled. “Come on. The Juliet Langley I know never turns down a person in need.”
“Scott is not a person. He’s a slimy, cheating, no-good son of a—”
He held up a hand. “I know. You mentioned that.”
I crossed my arms. “I’m not talking to him. End of discussion.”
“Okay, then I’ll talk to him.”
“Knock yourself out!” I snapped as he slipped out the door. “Argh!” I cried, grabbing the nearest thing—a pillow off the couch—and chucking it across the room.
Why in the world would Scott O’Malley have come crawling back to me of all people for help? Was he stupid enough to think I’d lift a finger to do anything for him? He’d ruined my life. After cheating on me with a waitress from the café we owned together, he wiped out our bank account and the café’s bank account, stole all of my belongings, and skipped town. I was left with an empty apartment I still had to make rent on and a café with no capital to buy supplies or pay employees. I’d had to close the café, which hurt more than anything. To add insult to injury, if my best friend, Pete Bennett, hadn’t stepped in when he did and offered me the manager’s job at Java Jive, I would have had to move back in with my parents. That was why I was even here in Nashville in the first place. If none of this had gone down, I’d be back in my hometown, probably married to that weasel Scott.
I shuddered at the thought and poured myself a shot of the vodka Pete and I kept in the office for celebrations and emergencies. It burned all the way down, but it took the edge off a little. As I was storing the bottle away in the desk drawer, Ryder came back in and eyed it and my used shot glass, but made no comment.
“Well?” I asked. “Did you have a nice chat?”
Ryder’s lip curled slightly. “That guy is a real asshat.”
“And he carries a purse.”
I snickered. As long as I’d known Scott, he’d always had a small messenger bag slung around one shoulder. And, yes, it kind of looked like a purse. If you wanted to get technical about it, since he kept his wallet, keys, phone, spare change, and lip balm in there, it was a purse. “He likes for people to call it a satchel.”
“Whatever. He seems to be pretty adamant about talking to you. He wouldn’t tell me any particulars, but he says he’s in trouble and you’re the only one he trusts to help him.”
“Did you relay the message that I couldn’t give a flying crap about his problems?”
Ryder cracked a smile. “I’m pretty sure his nose is broken. I think you got your point across.”
“Good. Is he gone?”
Wincing, he said, “Sort of. He’s coming back tonight after you’ve had some time to cool off.”
“What?” I cried.
Ryder put both hands in front of his face. “Don’t punch the messenger.”
I rolled my eyes. “Ha, ha.”
His expression became serious. “Hey, I think you should hear him out. He seemed genuinely upset. I’m taking Maya to a movie later, so I won’t be able to play referee. You think you can keep those fists of fury under control without me? Will Pete be here to have your back?”
“He should be. Although I have to warn you—he knows Scott, and he doesn’t like him any more than I do.”
“Surely the two of you can be adults about this.”
“Pete and me? Doubtful.”
He pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration. “If I get a call in the middle of my date to come bail you out of jail . . .”
I didn’t even want to think about getting thrown in jail (again), so I changed the subject. “So what movie are you going to see?”
Shrugging, he replied, “I don’t know. Some chick flick. Maya picked it.”
My jaw dropped. “See? Girl stuff!”
“Why are you griping? You don’t even like those kinds of movies.”
Well, he had me there.
Unable to shake the unsettled feeling I had about Scott showing up out of the blue at Java Jive, I headed home for a while to try to chill out. I trudged up the rusty steps to my second floor apartment, grumbling to myself as I thought about how it was all Scott’s fault that I had to live in this crummy building crawling with loud college kids because I couldn’t afford anything better.
As I passed my new neighbor Cooper’s open window, he called out, “Hey, Juliet!”
I gave him a halfhearted smile and a wave, but kept walking.
Cooper caught up with me at my door. “You okay? You don’t look happy.” He reached out and gave my shoulder a squeeze as he looked at me with concern. I gave his hand a meaningful glance, and he quickly removed it. “Sorry. I wasn’t thinking. Want to talk about whatever’s bothering you?”
I sighed. Cooper Milford was a great listener. He was a psych grad student at Vanderbilt, after all. “That would probably help. Thanks.”
He followed me into my apartment. Once the door was closed, he took my hand, and this time I didn’t push him away. “What’s up?”
I launched into my sad story, and Cooper listened, never interrupting or throwing in his two cents. When I was finished, I said, “This is probably more drama than you signed up for with me.”
Chuckling, he said, “Are you kidding? Drama is my job. Or rather, it will be once I finish up this year.”
I pulled my hand out of his as I was reminded how young he was—way too young for me. I’d just turned thirty-one, and he was only twenty-three. What was I thinking with this secret arrangement we had going on? Oh, right. He was adorable and amazing in the sack. I was lonely and one cat away from becoming a spinster. Pathetic? You betcha.
He ran his hands through his brown hair. “Juliet, I hate that face you make every time our age difference comes up. You know we’re not doing anything wrong here. We’re both adults.”
I scrunched up my nose. “It freaks me out when you read my facial expressions, Coop. But I have to admit you’re going to make one seriously good head-shrinker.”
“It’s a blessing and a curse. Great for my future career, not so great for relationships.”
“Luckily you don’t have to worry about that with me.”
Cooper moved closer and put his arms around me. “Right. You know, I’ve been meaning to ask you—”
I was tired of talking. “If I want to move this discussion to the bedroom?”
After hesitating for only a split second, he smiled. “Yeah.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I hope there will be many more books. What an awesome ending. Loved it.
More of a love story
In my opinion, this was the best of the series. Juliet finally starts acting like an adult. She keeps her temper in control most of the time and has finally decided who she loves. The mystery plot itself was good and kept me guessing. Well edited.
There is nothing worse than having your lying, cheating, thief of an ex-fiancé show up at your job, unless you are Juliet Langley. She clocked him right in front of her customers at Java Jive before he could finish his plea for her help. Never known for her subtlety, everyone in the coffee shop could tell she hated the man she just punched. After her boss settles her down, she agrees to meet up with Scott, the infamous ex, even though she was still understandably not happy to meet with the man that took all her money and caused her to lose her business. Not to mention he broke her heart. Things go from bad to worse when they meet as Java Jive closed that evening. Juliet was still steaming, but her boss Pete who is her best friend is there to keep her in check. Scott arrives looking rather sick, but is determined to enlist Juliet’s help finding his missing wife. Something shady is going on here and Juliet wanted no part of it. But when Scott collapses and dies right in front of Pete and Juliet she has no choice but to investigate. Especially since a detective holding a grudge attempts to pin a murder charge on Pete and Juliet. Against everyone’s better judgement, Juliet pairs up with her on again off again boyfriend police detective Ryder to find the real killer and kidnapper. As the case unfolds, bribery, illegal kickbacks and stolen drugs muddy it up. But soon the investigation turns from frustrating to dangerous as the real killer may be targeting Juliet to keep her from finding out his secrets. Juliet is a great main character for a cozy series. She is smart, funny and has more man trouble than she wants or needs. She has a neighbor that is basically a friend with benefits and Ryder is now dating her girlfriend. Juliet really doesn’t want him anymore, but sometimes the memory of what they had for a while haunts her. Then there is Pete. Good hearted, adorably cute and there for her no matter how crazy her life gets. They both have feelings for each other, but she is afraid to commit to a relationship and ruin their great friendship. Caroline Fardig knows how to keep a cozy mystery true to form. Her books are funny, entertaining and always have a twist in the plot to keep her readers guessing. It is no surprise she is a USA Today bestselling author. With an interesting list of past professions; including funeral parlor associate and church organist, she sounds as interesting as her characters. This is not the first book I’ve read by Farding, and will not be the last. I highly recommend this book and series for cozy mystery fans. DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman
This is an entertaining series. I want things to go well for the main character, but enjoy her twists and turns. The major twist here is her ex-fiance is the murder victim! And she just had a very public fight with him before he dies. Ooops.
Mochalicious! Amusing, entertaining, humorous, well-written, intriguing & suspenseful. The perfect cozy mystery to enjoy with a mocha! *I received a complimentary ARC of this story from NetGalley & Random House Publishing Group - Alibi in order to read and provide a voluntary, unbiased and honest review, should I choose to do so.
Juliet Langley's fiancé left her for another woman, stole all her possessions and took all their money. When he suddenly appears back in her life a year later he was greeted with a punch to the nose. Later when she agreed to talk to him he dropped dead. Now Juliet and her BFF Pete are suspects and Juliet decides to use her PI skills to try to expose the real murderer. This is one of my favorite series. It is well written with characters you want to cheer on. Juliet is tough and sassy yet vulnerable too. There is also an interesting assortment of men in her life. This is book 5 in the Java Jive series and could be read as a stand alone but you will get even more out of it if you have read the other books too. An ARC was provided to me by NetGalley for a honest review.
This series just keeps getting better and I particularly liked that Fardig brought characters from her Lizzie Hart series into the story. Murder of her ex obviously means Jules is going to run afoul of the law – again! She’s teamed up with Ryder to investigate, but that’s a relationship now based in friendship only as it appears Jules and Pete are finally together forever. This book is fun, fast paced, the characters are fabulous and this entire series is one I’d recommend to anyone wanting to immerse themselves in a really good set of books. So what’s up next for our favorite author? It will be interesting to find out.
Caroline Fardig never disappoints!! This is the 5th book in the Java Jive mysteries & the series just keeps getting better. Juliette & Pete are back & tackling another mystery...... this time the death of Jules ex-husband Scott. The whole cast of unique friends, family, & coffee shop staff are back & in rare form. This is a cozy mystery with a kick of spice. Can't wait to see what happens next with Jules & Pete I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
I am new to this author, and found this book to be an enjoyable read. Juliet manages a coffee house and is also a private detective. Her boss Pete is her best friend. When her ex-fiance unexpectedly shows up, begging for her help and then dies, Juliet and Pete get involved in the case. They were not only the last ones to see Scott alive, but he also had stolen all of Juliet’s money and possessions in the past. Her ex-boyfriend Ryan (a police officer) also gets involved. It brings out many things in the pharmaceutical industry that are very realistic. It has a little more depth than the typical cozy mystery. I think I’ll go back to the beginning and read the entire series.
I love Caroline Fardig and everything she writes! This is my favorite! Juliet and the gang from Java Jive are back with another dead body. This one hits close to home for Juliet. Lots of twisty mystery with cameos from the Lizzie Hart series. Oh and the romance! There are tons of awwwww moments. Best one yet. Can't wait to see what happens to the red headed she devil next!
I love the Java Jive series! Caroline Fardig delivers a great plot filled with twists and humorous moments. I was hooked from the first chapter, and it was difficult to put down. In this installment, the author gives us a glimpse of the characters from her other cozy-mystery series set in Juliette's home town (Liberty). Would definitely recommend it to any cozy-mystery fan.
It's about time!! Juliet and the gang are back in a new adventure. Juliet's ex-fiancée shows up saying that his wife has been kidnapped and wants Juliet to help him find her. Before she can find out the whole story, he drops dead. So, again she is suspected of murder. As Juliet, Pete, Ryder and Maya try to figure out what happened, they find that things are not what they seemed with Scott, Mandi and the company they worked for. The more they investigate, the more confusing things become. I won't spoil anything, but I am so glad the way things are working out.
Caroline Fardig’s Murder over Mochas The RedHeaded She Devil has returned!!!! Juliet Langley finds her former ex-fiancé just walked into the Java Jive coffeehouse. Without a thought the RedHeaded She Devil ( Juliet's nickname when she loses her cool ) lands a blow right into his face!!! Her ex-fiancé fleeced Juliet out of all her money and personal belongings running off and marrying the head waitress of the cafe they had owned jointly. Now he is requesting for Juliet's help in finding his missing wife plus he tells her he uncovered something that has put him in a dangerous situation then he falls over DEAD. Now Juliet is the prime suspect. In addition to being manager of the Java Jive coffeehouse, Juliet is a licensed private investigator with singing and song writing abilities. With the help of her friends, Juliet sets out to solve the murder and clear her name. You will enjoy her humorous escapades filled with danger, suspense, kickbacks, illegal use of various pharmaceutical samples, intrigue plus murder. While trying to put together the pieces of the murder mystery, Juliet runs into a lot of twists and turns that complicate her efforts. Great plot and subplots. The reader will enjoy spending time with the feisty red head, her old and new romantic situations and her supporting cast. The characters are well created, well defined, colorful and zany. This is book # 5 in A Java Jive Mystery series. It can be read as a stand alone. Great entertaining, highly recommend read. I volunteered to read the Advanced Reader Copy. Thank you to Alibi via Net Gallery for this eBook. My opinion is my own.
LOVED this book! This is a fun and very entertaining mystery with plenty of angst as Juliet encounters her past boyfriends - one of whom dies in front of her. And just her luck, but a lazy and minimally competent detective is assigned to the case. He'll be able to wrap it up quickly once he can prove that Juliet or BFF Pete did it. With her new PI license, Juliet begins investigating the case to prove her (and Pete's) innocence. Before long, she and her pals are embroiled in one madcap escapade after another - from "stealing" her own property to spending time with the the taxidermy animals from hell. Fans of the genre will love this book. This is a stand alone novel, however its so good that you really owe it to yourself to read the whole series. The author is on my must read authors' list.
The coffee's not the only thing getting HOT in Nashville. Juliet's life is heating up all around her when ex-fiance Scott drops in for a visit and drops sead at her feet leaving Juliet and friend, Pete, in boiling hot water. In order not to be accused of murder, the investigate the case involving dirty deals and drug reps. Exciting and intriguing this well written mystery keeps you turning pages wondering who will turn up next with a motive. Sassy and sarcastic, the characters are so much fun. Discovering what will happen next for Juliet is as entertaining as solving the mystery.
Easy to read, attention-holding and a wonderful way to take a break from my usual shoot-'em-up, gore-filled action books: That's my take on this fun book that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. If there's a downside, it appears to be the last in a five-book series that I wish I'd started from the beginning (although this one stands on its own just fine). Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of cozy mysteries - but for one primary reason: It seems to be the rule that the heroine be downright obnoxious. She goes off on her own, never paying any attention to anyone - as well as the kind of woman who, when chased by a bad guy with a knife, turns left into the dark alley instead of heading toward the well-lit, people-filled street to the right. Not so here. In fact, I quite liked Juliet Langley, a sometime musician and self-appointed private detective who manages Java Jive, a coffeehouse in Nashville. She's intelligent, assertive but not pushy, and actually listens to the counsel of friends (and yes, even police officers) before going off the deep end. That's not to say she doesn't have emotions, though; in fact, she's got plenty. For starters, she still hasn't come totally to grips with losing her romance with town police detective, Ryder Hamilton, who switched to her best friend and PI-business partner, Maya. She's also got mixed feelings about her current, much younger go-to guy, and conjures up visions of getting together with long-time friend and coffeehouse owner Pete. Mostly,though, she's furious with her former fiance, Scott O'Malley, who ran off with another woman, cleaning out their bank accounts and causing the downfall of the coffeehouse in Juliet's home town of Liberty, Indiana, that she and Scott co-owned (yes, it does seem she's run through an excess of male companions over a very short period of time, but then that's not necessarily a bad thing). Needless to say, Scott's totally unexpected appearance at the Nashville shop took both her and Pete by surprise - so much so that she punches him in the nose - and when he begs Juliet to use her PI skills to find his missing wife Mandi (the one he dumped Juliet to be with), she's dumbfounded. She's flat-out gobsmacked, though, when he drops dead right in the middle of the shop. When it's determined that he may have been poisoned, the local police become aware of the hostility Juliet's harboring toward the victim and consider her a person of interest at the very least. With her reputation at stake, Juliet is intent on clearing her name and sees no alternative except to take the investigation into her own hands; somewhat reluctantly, Ryder agrees to help. The place to start, they agree, is in Liberty - just a couple of hours from Nashville - where they quickly learn that Scott and his wife are "drug dealers" (a.k.a. pharmaceutical reps). Despite the potential for better-than-decent income, though, it's pretty clear they're living lives of luxury well beyond their means. Are the drugs in any way connected to Scott's untimely death or his wife's sudden disappearance? If she's been kidnapped, is she still alive - and can they find her in time to prevent a worst-case scenario? Of course, I can't reveal the answers - but I will say it was a real treat finding them for myself. I thank the publisher, via NetGalley, for allowing me to read an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.