Uncommon Grounds

Uncommon Grounds

by Sandra Balzo

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Product Details

BN ID: 2940013647626
Publisher: NYLA
Publication date: 07/21/2011
Series: A Maggy Thorsen Mystery , #1
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 248
Sales rank: 148,297
File size: 349 KB

About 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.


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, Balzo writes short stories, two of which have been published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, winning the Macavity, Derringer and Robert L. Fish awards.

Customer Reviews

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Uncommon Grounds 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Brookville, Wisconsin, Caron Egan, Patricia Harper, and Maggie Thorsen open up a gourmet coffee shop, UNCOMMON GROUNDS. However, on the day they are to open for business, Patricia dies in what seems like an electrocution accident caused by a faulty wired latte maker. However, Sheriff Pavlik quickly finds evidence that someone tinkered with the wiring killing the woman................................... Pavlik quickly learns that the married Caron and the also married victim had affairs with the same person. He also sees possible motives involving the fact that Patricia ran for town chair in a disputed election. Meanwhile Maggie, who is about to be divorced from unfaithful Ted, unites with Patricia¿s campaign manager Sarah to uncover the truth so that she can move on, but will soon wonder who to trust as corruption surfaces from every corner of her town................................... The story line is an engaging tale that starts off as a wonderful police procedural, but soon adds a solid parallel amateur sleuth subplot. Magnificent Maggie makes the plot percolate as she wonders if she is a suspect, how to avoid pushy reporters and finally how to clear her name. The support cast enhances either the investigation, offers insight into the victim, or a better understanding of Maggie. Though the killer comes out of nowhere and seems stretched, mystery readers will take delight sipping this caffeine cozy caper............................... Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I started this book, I thought I made a mistake but after a couple chapters, I was hooked. SOOO GOOD! Did not see the ending coming!
EurekaDB More than 1 year ago
Uncommon Grounds is the first in the Maggie Thorsen series. This is a really good read. Very enjoyable. I actually read Grounds for Murder (#2) and Bean There Done That (#3) first. The after reading Uncommon Grounds I went back and read the others in order and the entire series flowed much better. Additionally, I find it interesting that this series takes place in the upper great lakes region (Wisconsin). It is a nice break from the usual New York, LA, Miami cities.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When former PR executive and new espresso shop owner Maggy Thorsen investigates the death of one of her partners--electrocuted by the espresso machine on opening morning--she also turns up the seamy underside of her leafy suburb. Brookhills, Wisconsin, boasts tennis Moms driving expensive SUVs, subdivisions full of mansion-like houses, and snooty residents to match. Recently divorced Maggy tootles around town trying to uncover the murderer in order to clear her own name. The cast of characters includes Kate McNamara, the annoying newspaper reporter, Gary Donovan, chief of police and former head of security for the local bank, and a distractingly handsome yet irritating new sheriff, Jake Pavlik. Maggy finds a sidekick in Sarah Kingston, a blunt-talking, chain-smoking real estate agent with a secret soft spot for children, and between the two of them they manage to take the murderer down. Amateur sleuth Maggy is good company, with her snappy phrases, funny one-liners, and wry observations. Describing the police chief, for instance, she says: ¿Gary had been an Eagle Scout, for God¿s sake. Or still was. I think that¿s like being an alcoholic, you never completely recover.¿ Details of operating a gourmet coffee business give this mystery a contemporary and unique spin and make the reader long for a smooth creamy latte.
Kathryn Carter More than 1 year ago
I truly enjoyed this book! It was a fun read with a very likeable main character. I can truly say that I'm looking forward to buying and reading the second book :)
thornton37814 on LibraryThing 17 days ago
On the day their coffee shop is set to open, Caron and then Maggy come in to discover that their partner Patricia is dead. When it turns out to be murder, the sheriff rather than the newly elected police chief takes charge of the investigation.Maggy is not certain that the sheriff is completely competent and sets out to do a little investigating of her own. Interesting plot with enough red herrings to baffle most readers. I had a feeling all along that the person that ended up being responsible for it was the villain, but I never really knew what the motive was until the end. This was not only a quick and easy read, but also one that held my attention.
elbakerone on LibraryThing 17 days ago
Maggy Thorsen is eager to open her new coffee shop Uncommon Grounds with her two friends, but none of them predicted murder to be on the menu for their opening day. The small town of Brookhills, Wisconsin produces a surprisingly long list of suspects and when Maggy and her business partner Caron are both on it, Maggy decides to take on the task of investigating the murder herself. Sandra Balzo constructs a clever and intricate mystery in this novel. There were multiple suspects with motive and opportunity and new clues were revealed slowly throughout the story to keep the reader guessing to the very end. Maggy was a smart and witty heroine, likable and believable, and I look forward to reading more of Balzo's mysteries centered around Thorsen's coffee shop adventures.
PamelaSweet on LibraryThing 18 days ago
Maggie Thorsen, former PR exec and current partner in Uncommon Grounds, walks into her new coffee shop on opening day only to discover her partner Patricia dead, death by espresso machine. Who could have killed Patricia, and what does this mean for the future of the shop?Signs point to their third partner and friend, Caron, as the possible killer but Maggie won¿t believe it and sets out to save her friend and their business. During her mission to find the murderer and save Uncommon Grounds, Maggie discovers more than she bargained for, including marital affairs, objectionable politic maneuvers, and an unexpected attraction to the most bothersome character in town.Will Maggie¿s meddling go too far? Was Patricia really the intended victim? And, does Uncommon Grounds have a future or will it take the espress route to bittersville?I originally read this book because I¿d discovered there was another coffeehouse series published besides Cleo Coyle¿s Coffee House Mystery series and I wanted to see how they¿d differ. As you can see from my current banner, I love coffee, and the coffee house setting feels like home to me.Let¿s just say right now that Sandra Balzo is a hoot! I love the series¿ heroine, Maggie, because we see her faults and love her anyway. She¿s got a good heart, the desire for justice, and the cajones to do the dirty work required to ferret out the truth. I especially enjoyed her relationship with Frank, her dog, and the way she knocked Sheriff Pavlik down a peg or two when she¿d had enough of his bullying.Plenty of red herrings keep the reader from guessing who the killer is, which I appreciated since all too often I figure it out early and am then left with deciding whether or not to finish the book. As Maggie uncovers clue after possible clue, she discovers her Brookhill community and the people she cares for are not all they seem. I liked that she was willing to risk danger to get to the truth but at times she seemed reckless and a bit naive. Gotta love her, though, and the humor throughout this book is reason enough to read it.You won¿t be disappointed in Sandra Balzo¿s Uncommon Grounds. It¿s a fun read that keeps you guessing. I know I look forward to the next book in the series, Grounds for Murder (Maggy Thorsen Mysteries).
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VictoriaAllman More than 1 year ago
I must say, I read a lot of mysteries and usually have an inkling of who-dun-it or my suspicions al least. With Uncommon Grounds, I had no idea until the last chapter who had killed Patricia Harper on opening day of her coffeeshop. And to an avid reader, that makes this book a winner. I was thoroughly engrossed in the story of Maggie Thorsten, co-owner of Uncommon Grounds and suspect in the murder, and the town of Brookhills. It is easy to see why this first book in the series was nominated for an Anthony and Macavity Award. Balzo is at the top of the mystery genre with this book. I look forward to reading the rest of the series. Victoria Allman author of: SEAsoned: A Chef's Journey with Her Captain
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Guest More than 1 year ago
UNCOMMON GROUNDS opens as newly single Maggy Thorsen opens the door to a new business. Uncommon Grounds is going to be a place for people in the town of Brookhills to get a break from the McDonald¿s coffee down the road. A fresh start for Maggy and her two partners. Unfortunately, partner Patricia has been grounded. That¿s right, folks, she¿s gotten a jolt from the Espresso machine like none before and lies in a pool of spilt milk. The laughter will continue as you read this cozy ¿nouveau¿. The character of Maggy is a suburban ex with a Mike Hammer attitude. Balzo¿s other talents give the book a refreshing substance. The plotting is fast and well done. Small town coincidences don¿t seem forced. Motive, means and opportunity will keep you turning the pages. Best of all, when you¿re done, you¿ll want a second visit with the town and its people. Balzo knows the place she¿s writing. And, from the local preacher to the moving guy, she has the skill to give all her characters life. Are you a fan of Stephanie? Do you enjoy Joan Hess? Balzo adds another voice to the argument that cozies aren¿t just for teacups anymore. Ruth Jordan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
the series is based on a female detective who can't tell the truth to anyone...friends, family or law enforcement. not my idea of series I want to continue reading. She gives women a bad name.