Book Review: Bean There, Done That by Sandra Balzo

bean there done that balzo List: fiction for coffee lovers

Maggy Thorsen is one tough coffee bean. No matter what life throws at her, she refuses to be ground down. Running a small business? Meh. A few murders? Pfft. A grisly divorce? Nothing to it. Her ex-husband Teds new wife coming to her with marital woes? Maggy is going to keep that big ol grin plastered on her face, even when ex-hubbys new wife claims that Teds chequered past goes back a lot longer than Maggy had once thought. Were talking twenty years back.

Rachel wants Maggies help to dig the dirt on Ted so that she can take him to the cleaners, and Maggy, grudgingly, acquiesces, in part because she wants to know the truth about her relationship with her ex-husband. But when Rachel suddenly goes missing, Maggy starts wondering whether Teds situation is even muckier than she could have imagined. Sure, hes a womaniser, a philanderer, and hes a sloppy dresser, but could Ted be a murderer? Maggys taste in men isnt exactly exemplary, but surely shes not that bad a judge of character, right?

But Maggys new beau Sheriff Pavlik certainly thinks so, and when a body turns up, Pavlik is off and running after Ted, who seems to be on the run himself. Maggys in a tough spot: should she team up with Pavlik against Ted, or should she trust her gut and pit her wits against the lawand love?

Its a conflict thats as hard to stomach as a luke-warm triple espresso before bed, and Maggie finds herself rocked with ambivalencean ambivalence thats only growing with her feelings for Rachels spunky hotelier brother. But this tentative romance feels a little offin the manner of milk left out on the bench overnight. Perhaps Maggy does have a thing for the murdering type after all

The third outing in Balzos Maggy Thorsen series, Bean There, Done That'has more twists and turns than a trolley with a broken wheel. Ill happily admit to being the dunce and note that I was completely in the dark until the final reveal, which though featuring Balzos usual kookiness, works very well in this novel, elevating it above its predecessors (and like Adrienne Kresss Alex and the Ironic Gentleman'having one reflect on social norms and marked and unmarked gender/sexuality expectations). Balzos characterisation becomes more sophisticated in this outing, with the characters more nuanced than in the earlier volumes, although the humour remains strong.

There are the occasional issues with technological info dumpery that plagued the first book, although in this instance the issue is to do with mobile phones and autocorrect rather than the how to use email tutorial received by the audience in Maggys debut. While there may have been a need to explicate these issues when the book was written, the inclusion of these facets of technology does date the book somewhat. Still, the rest of the novel is as fresh and zany as Im coming to expect from Balzos work, and again Balzo serves up a rich, hearty brew that will entice cozy- and coffee-lovers from all around. Maggy is firmly on my guilty pleasures list, and I look forward to catching up with her in future.

Rating: ????? (excellent)

With thanks to Sandra Balzo for the review copy

Purchase Bean There, Done That from Amazon | Book Depository UK | Book depository USA

This book was read as part of my participation in the MS Readathon, a charity event that supports multiple sclerosis research. If you would like to sponsor my efforts, you can do so'here. All donations are tax deductible.

With thanks to'Sandra Balzo'for the review copy

This book appears on our'list of books about coffee

See also our'review of'Uncommon Grounds

See also our review of Grounds for Murder





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