"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Murder on the Orient Espresso by Sandra Balzo

Murder on the Orient Espresso
Author:  Sandra Balzo
Published:  December 2013
Publisher:  Seven House Publishers Ltd
Pages:  200
Genre:  Mystery
Edition:  ARC
Source:  A thank you to the author and her publisher for a complimentary advanced reader's copy to facilitate this review.  Receipt thereof bears no influence over my opinion nor my review.

Wisconsin coffeehouse owner Maggy Thorsen accompanies her main squeeze, Sheriff Jake Pavlik, to South Florida, where he's been asked to speak at a mystery-writers' conference.  Maggy is anticipating a romantic arrival in their hotel suite, but when the opening night event turns out to be a re-enactment of Agatha Christie’s classic, Murder on the Orient Express, the couple reluctantly sets off on a night train into the Everglades.

The idea is to solve the "crime" and return, but the troupe soon finds itself embroiled in a real-life murder mystery as creepy and baffling as any work of fiction.

My thoughts:

I just have to say I hate snakes!!!  Even more than spiders do I hate them!  So when I read Murder on the Orient Espresso I learned far more than I ever wanted to learn about pythons, their choice of foods and how the everglades have become home to some including the African rock python which can grow a horrifying 20 feet long!!  (Shudder!!!)

Alright, I digress.  Murder on the Orient Espresso takes place on a train mimicking the story of Murder on the Orient Express written by a favourite author of mine, Agatha Christie.  A group of mystery writers, both established and up and coming, a sheriff, a coffeehouse owner, and a book reviewer contribute to the small list of participants in a writing conference aboard a train re-enacting the mystery in Agatha's novel.  However, and you can see this coming, someone ends up dead and there are several people aboard who bore grudges against the deceased.  

Maggy, the coffeehouse owner, is a bit of an amateur sleuth who has accompanied Sheriff Jake Pavlik, a guest speaker for the conference.  I like Maggy and not just because she hates snakes as much as I do.  She is a very real member of this cast with desires and fears who cannot help speculating and investigating the murder.  When she is left aboard the train while her boyfriend, Jake (aka Sheriff Pavlik) leaves to go for help, Maggy is confronted with the murderer and a snake...again!  Yikes!! 

Murder on the Orient Espresso author Sandra Balzo has been compared to other illustrious mystery writers including Joan Hess and Janet Evanovich.  Murder on the Orient Espresso is a new twist on an old classic which is fun and interesting and somewhat unexpected, snakes aside. I'd like to investigate her other mysteries which include Uncommon GroundsRunning on Empty and Dead Ends to name just a few.

Meet the author:

Sandra Balzo is an award-winning author of crime fiction, including ten books in two different mystery series from Severn House--the Wisconsin-based Maggy Thorsen Mysteries and Main Street Murders, set in the High Country of North Carolina and featuring journalist AnnaLise Griggs.  Balzo's books have garnered starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist, while being recommended to readers of Janet Evanovich, Charlaine Harris, Mary Daheim, Joan Hess and Margaret Maron. A Wisconsin native, Sandy now splits her time between South Florida and North Carolina.


  1. Replies
    1. Yes it is Ann and I really like that the story is based on a re-enactment of Murder on the Orient Express. I just had a note from the author who assures me this is the only novel with snakes in it so I will happily and eagerly look for more from her!

  2. I've read all previous books in the series and really liked them. Snakes are not my favorite, either. Not even close. Alright, I'm scared silly. I'll still read the book, of course, and I'm sure I'll enjoy the mystery. Hopefully, Sandra Balzo leaves spiders of the big and hairy type out of her stories.

    1. Ooh, next to snakes, spiders are right up there with the nasties! Particularly tarantulas!

  3. *very informative post. Looking more to something like this.
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