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Murder on the Orient Espresso (Maggy…
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Murder on the Orient Espresso (Maggy Thorsen)

by Sandra Balzo

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4.5 stars

Since I ended up loving this, sorry to say I didn't start with the beginning of the series and instead jumped in with book eight. There's obviously been some kind of romantic back story I missed out on with it's development; still, it was a smooth enough transition and it's not a series you have to read prior books to for it to work.

Maggy Thorsen and her boyfriend Jake Pavlik have gone to Florida for the sheriff to speak at a writer's conference. That conference is opening it's weekend by having the guests on a train as part of a writer's getaway weekend. The train is re-enacting Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express. Things, of course, don't always go smoothly.

As far as mysteries go, it's a great one. There's plenty of suspects all crammed in together in tight quarters, so of course any of them could have been the murderer. Maggy doesn't know anyone so she is learning motive and backstory as the story progresses. I wasn't sure until the buildup who the victim would even be, as the author doesn't dive immediately into the killing of the person.

The interactions with each of the characters and how they tie together is probably the best part of the book. Loved it.

The ending is a nice twist on who it was - I started suspecting the person by playing the "murder mystery solving rule", but I wasn't sure and it wasn't predictable. There were genuine red herrings and clues, giving the reader their own chance to solve the crime along with the heroine.

Maggy's an incredible lead - she's funny, not uptight and prudish, has realistic insecurities, and loves coffee. Unlike some cozies, there is some profanity and sexual play in this one, so it's more realistic. The humor is hilarious when it happens and what really makes this book brew - the discovery of the body especially held me in laughs. Fun stuff.

The ending is sympathetic and, again, I love Maggy and how she handles stuff. With the intriguing mystery, the excellent characters, hilarious and non-forced humor, I can't wait to read more of this series and highly recommend it to all cozy mystery fans.


( )
  ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
Where to start with this book review? I'm a fan of this series, but I generally don't like 'away' books. I get attached to the hometown cast of characters; I get a picture in my head of the hometown/setting. Moving my protagonist away from all that messes up my head and forces me to concentrate harder than I'd normally have to. Not to mention learning a whole cast of characters and keeping them straight.

So I was not as excited about this book as previous ones; instead of Wisconsin, it takes place in South Florida at a mystery writers 101 conference. Well, ok, I'm from South Florida, so the new setting isn't that big of a stretch. And I like the Everglades. So I picked up the book last night and dove in. I fell asleep after the first chapter, so really, I read this whole book today.

The first thing I noticed was the wholly coincidental timing of my reading this book during what I'll refer to as the "GoodReads Censorship Debacle", or the GCD. I say this because a good portion of the first 1/3 to 1/2 of the book focusses on an online reviewer who is absolutely ruthless in his dissection of books (so of course he is hated/feared) and discusses self-published authors and the self-entitlement that some of them exhibit. I was chuckling quite a bit over this bit of kismet.

The murder itself. Inspired. Seriously. I so want to discuss the method of discovery, but I won't. Because anyone slightly interested in reading this book should get to it honestly. I read a LOT of cozy mysteries, and Ms. Balzo should win some recognition for most creative method of body discovery/disposal. This alone is what got her the 1/2 star in my 4.5 star rating. (It only lost that last half star because there were a ton of new characters and I had a devil of a time keeping them straight in my head. Even with the alliterative device the author used - which was very clever, - I still never had a really firm picture in my head of most of the cast.) The murderer was admirably hidden in a very well crafted plot and I had not the slightest idea who the culprit was until Maggy did.

The very, very end of the book was a tiny bit abrupt, but I'll just imagine that Jake and Maggy enjoyed the rest of the holiday and I'll look forward with eager anticipation to the next book in the series. ( )
  murderbydeath | Sep 20, 2014 |
Originally posted at Novel Reveries

“‘Hey, gigantic reptiles that eat each other, an untested train track, and a storm raging toward us?’ I turned with my double-double, finishing over my shoulder with, ‘If that doesn’t spell fun, what does?’” (loc. 840)

A mystery among writers, Murder on the Orient Espresso takes place at a Mystery 101 writer’s convention in which a reenactment of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is to take place. Things do not go as planned, and soon Maggy and her beau Sheriff Pavlik have a real murder on their hands.

I found the book short and sweet, as in a good evening read for a stormy day. The plot was simple, and I loved the funny wit that was dispersed throughout. Maggy’s character is a real joy! Some problems I had to contend with were keeping up with the other characters. A lot of the time, their names were affixed to the characters in the Agatha Christie book they were playing, and unless you’ve recently read the book, it becomes very confusing. It’s been a good two years or so since I last read Murder on the Orient Express, so the characters weren’t all that fresh on my mind, although the murder and the plot were. Another thing that didn’t quite fit were the “clues” and the interrogations because, when it’s all said and done, they didn’t matter when it came to the murderer. The mystery wasn’t conventionally solved, and it felt very rushed at the end. The victim in this crime was described as so awful, that when I really thought about it, it didn’t surprise me who they were and throughout the book, I didn’t really care who did the killing.

In all I liked the book for it’s humor, it’s relaxed read, and it’s pun on a classic mystery. This is my first Maggy Thorsen Mystery, but I can easily see myself reading her previous adventures for another cozy mystery book day. I’d recommend this book if you like quick reads, standard mysteries and witty women sleuths.

First Line: “‘They look normal. In fact,’ I swiveled my head to survey the people in the South Florida hotel lobby with us, ‘if it was July instead of November, we could be in Uncommon Grounds.’” (loc. 64)

Last Line: “‘It’s a long story.’” (loc. 3193)

Galley provided by Netgalley via Severn House Publishers

*Quotes are from uncorrected advanced galleys and may change before going to press. Please refer to the final printed book for official quotes. ( )
  Dnaej | Mar 14, 2014 |
Originally posted at Novel Reveries

“‘Hey, gigantic reptiles that eat each other, an untested train track, and a storm raging toward us?’ I turned with my double-double, finishing over my shoulder with, ‘If that doesn’t spell fun, what does?’” (loc. 840)

A mystery among writers, Murder on the Orient Espresso takes place at a Mystery 101 writer’s convention in which a reenactment of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is to take place. Things do not go as planned, and soon Maggy and her beau Sheriff Pavlik have a real murder on their hands.

I found the book short and sweet, as in a good evening read for a stormy day. The plot was simple, and I loved the funny wit that was dispersed throughout. Maggy’s character is a real joy! Some problems I had to contend with were keeping up with the other characters. A lot of the time, their names were affixed to the characters in the Agatha Christie book they were playing, and unless you’ve recently read the book, it becomes very confusing. It’s been a good two years or so since I last read Murder on the Orient Express, so the characters weren’t all that fresh on my mind, although the murder and the plot were. Another thing that didn’t quite fit were the “clues” and the interrogations because, when it’s all said and done, they didn’t matter when it came to the murderer. The mystery wasn’t conventionally solved, and it felt very rushed at the end. The victim in this crime was described as so awful, that when I really thought about it, it didn’t surprise me who they were and throughout the book, I didn’t really care who did the killing.

In all I liked the book for it’s humor, it’s relaxed read, and it’s pun on a classic mystery. This is my first Maggy Thorsen Mystery, but I can easily see myself reading her previous adventures for another cozy mystery book day. I’d recommend this book if you like quick reads, standard mysteries and witty women sleuths.

First Line: “‘They look normal. In fact,’ I swiveled my head to survey the people in the South Florida hotel lobby with us, ‘if it was July instead of November, we could be in Uncommon Grounds.’” (loc. 64)

Last Line: “‘It’s a long story.’” (loc. 3193)

Galley provided by Netgalley via Severn House Publishers

*Quotes are from uncorrected advanced galleys and may change before going to press. Please refer to the final printed book for official quotes. ( )
  Dnaej | Mar 14, 2014 |
I love Sandra Balzo’s stories. One, they are a great mystery, two they are full of humor. Maggy and her sheriff boyfriend are on their way from Wisconsin to Florida to a Writers’ conference. The sheriff is going to speak on forensics at the conference. They will then board a train headed towards the Everglades with an Agatha Christy reenactment on the Orient Express. Once again Maggie and Jake find themselves in the middle of a real mystery to be solved. They must figure out who the real murderer is on the train. This is a quick and enjoyable read. She is an author I highly recommend. ( )
  skstiles612 | Dec 25, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0727883119, Hardcover)

It’s November and Maggy Thorsen, co-owner of the Wisconsin gourmet coffeehouse, Uncommon Grounds, is in South Florida at an annual crime-writers’ conference with her beau, local sheriff Jake Pavlik, who is due to speak as a ‘forensics expert’.

Maggy’s pledge to behave solely as a tourist becomes trickier than she anticipated when the conference’s opening night event turns out to be a re-enactment of Agatha Christie’s classic, Murder on the Orient Express. As Maggy and Jake reluctantly set off on the night train to the Everglades to solve the ‘crime’, it’s clear that, as in the original novel, nothing is quite what it seems. And amidst rumours of careers taken, manuscripts stolen and vows broken, it seems that in the Everglades – as in life – the predator all too often becomes the prey.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:42 -0400)

When Maggy Thorsen and her beau, Sheriff Jake Pavlik, set out on a theatrical recreation of "Murder on the Orient Express" on a train ride through the Everglades, a real life mystery soon unfolds.

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