Thursday, May 7, 2015


I'm so happy to be a stop on 
author Carolyn Arnold's blog tour for
Book 9 in the McKinley Mystery series

A cup a day won’t kill you, but a few might.

Their first case as private investigators have Sean, Sara, and Jimmy neck-deep in coffee beans trying to find a killer. With their client certain that her mother was poisoned through her coffee of the month club, it has them setting out to Williamsburg, Virginia. But instead of approaching matters from the traditional standpoint, Sean and Sara brew a robust plot and stir Jimmy into the blend, all to get close to their top suspect and grind out the truth.

Going undercover at Tasty Beans, the coffee company, the three of them work to expose the culprit before anyone else dies. 

THE MCKINLEY MYSTERY SERIES ventures outside of the typical crime genre, lending itself to the cozy variety with no foul language or graphic violence. The series combines romance, mystery, humor, and adventure for a lighthearted, easy read. Each episode is a standalone read, meaning it’s not necessary to have read previous installments.

Wednesday, May 27!
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Chapter 5
Special Memories

      People didn’t seek them out when they felt their loved ones had passed away peacefully. They sought them out to get answers they weren’t getting elsewhere.
Sara crossed her legs underneath the table and leaned forward. She considered taking another sip of her coffee, but decided against it. “Tell us about your mother.”
“You mean, did she have anyone who didn’t like her?”
Sara nodded. This woman was sharp. Despite Sara’s initial assessment that her loss had shaken her spirit, the truth couldn’t be further from that evaluation.
“No, not that I knew. My mother was a kind woman, soft spoken, thoughtful. Half the time she’d be out in the neighborhood picking up people’s recycling boxes for them. She didn’t need to do that, but she said she wanted to do her part.”
“She picked up their recycling boxes?” Sean queried further.
“You know how you set it out on the curb and—well, maybe you don’t.”
Sara felt her cheeks heat. “We do know.” She glanced at Sean, who appeared to be equally embarrassed by being categorized into the rich and na├»ve segment of society.
“We weren’t always—” Sara rolled her hand, hoping that Sophie would pick up and save her from putting things bluntly.
“That’s right. You’re weren’t always rich. I apologize.”
Sara was wearing a blazer with a long-sleeve blouse, and this conversation was making her warm and uncomfortable. People who had limited means complained that judgment was unduly passed on them. Until now, Sara never realized how the reverse was also true. It didn’t matter who you were or what you had, people always had an opinion to offer. Typically it was fired from the other end of the spectrum based on nothing more than fabricated conjecture. It was a sad reality of mankind.
Sophie continued. “On recycling day, after the boxes and garbage receptacles were emptied, my mother took them from the curb and put them in front of her neighbors’ doors.”
“What a sweet woman.” Sara’s automatic reaction had Sean smiling at her.
“Yes, she was, and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to hurt her, let alone kill her.”
The file held the answer to her next question, but Sara wanted to hear it from Sophie. “Your mother was found in her home?”
“That’s right. She…” Sophie’s voice hitched and was gravelly, but she continued, “was found in her favorite chair by the window. She always loved watching the world go by. She was a real people watcher.”
Sean shuffled some paperwork on the table and lifted a sheet. “The autopsy shows cause of death as respiratory failure.”
“That’s what it says.”
“You don’t believe that part to be true?”
Sophie looked between them. “I’m not sure about that part, but if she did just stop breathing, it wasn’t because it was her time.” She pulled out a tissue from her purse and dabbed the corners of her eyes. “It wasn’t the flu either. I was going to take her to the doctor and have him tell her. I didn’t want to be the one to say what I thought it really was.”
“And what’s that?” Sara asked.
“I’m a nurse. You probably saw that in the file. Well, normal flu symptoms in an adult include fever, headache, fatigue, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and body aches. Vomiting isn’t a symptom, despite popular belief. It is more likely in children, but my mother also had dizziness and winded easily.” She paused, and when she seemed certain she had their full attention, she said, “My mother was poisoned with cyanide.”
With Sophie laying out her diagnosis so pointedly, Sara swallowed deeply. She couldn’t imagine stating the cause of her mother’s death so calmly. Maybe it had to do with Sophie’s medical background.
“Cyanide? Why do you figure that specifically?” Sean asked.
“The symptoms line up.”
“But you said that no one would dislike your mother enough to kill her.”
“Oh, I never said that she was targeted, but I do believe she was murdered.”
Sara was certain her facial expression reflected her confusion.
Sophie elaborated. “I don’t think she was necessarily targeted, per se, but the poisoning resulted in her death nonetheless. The doctor was always saying that all that coffee would kill her someday.”
“Her coffee?” Sara pushed her mug down the table. The thought of dying as a result of drinking it took away any desire to finish it off.
“Yeah, she drank five, six, cups a day. She found joy in it. That, reading, and watching her soaps.”
Sara ignored the sideways glance Sean shot her.
“You think someone poisoned her coffee?”
“I do, but I don’t think it was someone she knew. I think it came to her poisoned.”

Click on the above link for a full list of tour participants.


COFFEE IS MURDER was a good book (novella). And with the lead character Sara McKinley’s love of coffee, it was only a matter of time that this title would come to be.

This is the first story I’ve read in this series. But I understand that they are pretty much standalone titles so readers can jump in anywhere and not feel lost. In this story Sara & Sean McKinley, the husband and wife lead characters get their first cast in their new PI firm. I really enjoyed them and the other characters is this series. I liked the way they interacted with each other.

Ms. Arnold is a talented writer and I was impressed that she was able to write a novella that didn’t feel too rushed. I would think it’s harder to tie things up with less words and pages.

All in all an interesting mystery with a clever, satisfying conclusion.

About the author

CAROLYN ARNOLD is the international bestselling and award-winning author of the Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher, and McKinley Mystery series. She is the only author, in her genre, with POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT.TM
Carolyn was born in a small town, but that doesn’t keep her from dreaming big. And on par with her large dreams is her overactive imagination that conjures up killers and cases to solve. She currently lives in a city near Toronto with her husband and two beagles, Max and Chelsea. She is also a member of Crime Writers of Canada.

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  1. Thanks, Lisa! What horrible person would use coffee as a murder weapon? Obviously, not a coffee lover! :)

  2. Sounds like a fun book!

  3. COFFEE IS MURDER has an interesting premise.

  4. Happy Thursday to you! I love coffee and if I had to go, drinking my coffee wouldn't be the worst way.

  5. The excerpt has hooked me. I haven't read any of the others in this series - yet but I will be looking for them now.