Sunday, January 14, 2024

A Bean to Die For - A Guest Post, Excerpt, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to allow Stanley Lewis to take over Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Stanley on the pages of a Coffee Lover's Mystery series by Tara Lush. A BEAN TO DIE FOR is the fourth book in the series and was released last week.

Let me tell you about the time my mom paid good money to make me look like a poodle.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with poodles, of course. I have a friend who is a poodle. She’s a mini poodle and lives down the street. Sometimes she growls at me, but I know that she’s just being playful. Her name is Goldie.

Mom doesn’t think so, though, and never lets me get too close to Goldie.

But… wait. Where are my manners? I’ve told you about Mom and Goldie and poodles and not myself.

My name is Stanley Lewis, and I’m a Shih Tzu. I live on the island of Devil’s Beach, which I’m told is a beautiful, tropical paradise. I don’t know what any of that means, exactly, but I do know that where I live is warm all the time, and Mom sometimes lets me on the beach.

That’s pretty fun, because I like to dig holes in the sand. Mom’s not so sure about that.

If you’ve been in Devil’s Beach for a while you might know my mom. Her name is Lana Lewis, and she’s the co-owner of Perkatory, a really popular coffee shop here on the island. She runs it with her father, Peter, who I know as Grandpa. He likes to joke that I’m in his “granddog.”

All I know is that I have a dog bed and special dog treats at both Mom’s house and at Grandpa’s house. Oh, and I have a dog bed in two other places, too: on a boat owned by Erica, Mom’s best friend. There’s a fourth dog bed in a big building by the beach. Mom takes me there sometimes so we can hang out with my favorite human (other than Mom). His name is Noah, and I like him a lot.

Mom thinks I like Noah more than her, which isn’t true. It’s just that Noah gives me secret turkey meatballs when Mom’s not looking. Noah is Mom’s boyfriend, whatever that means. I wish they’d spend more time together because Mom is so happy whenever he’s around.

Anyway. I have a difficult time staying on track when I tell a story! That’s probably because I’m still a puppy. That’s what Mom says. She says I’m going to be a puppy forever, though.

Recently Mom thought I needed a bath and a haircut. I’m not a fan of water and I didn’t know what I was in for when she brought me to the hair cut place. A nice man put me in soapy water then rinsed me off — then shaved half my fur off! He cut my hair in a really weird way and when Mom picked me up she muttered the word “toupee.” I wasn’t sure what that meant.

I thought I looked handsome as ever. Mom did, too. But for some reason people kept mistaking me as a poodle, and Mom got all huffy. Mom can be like that sometimes.

Something weird happened at the groomer, though. Mom talked for a long time to the men who worked there about a man who was found dead in the community garden. Mom seems to think that the man was murdered. I’m not entirely sure what that means but I know it’s bad.

Mom and I are now running all over the island while she talks to a bunch of people about the dead man. I don’t know why she does this — she’s got enough to do with the café. She also is stressing about meeting Noah’s Mom. That’s why she wanted me to have a new haircut. She claimed I smelled “like clams” and that I couldn’t meet Noah’s Mom like that.

I don’t know what it all means. I’m just a baby dog. But I know Mom’s onto something with this dead man. She’s solved three other crimes. Maybe you should read about it in A BEAN TO DIE FOR, the book about Mom’s case. It comes out January 9. Here’s a little excerpt:

“Were you the one who groomed Stanley?” I asked quickly, hoping Kevin wouldn’t bring up Gisela. He’d been friends with her when she disappeared.

“Nice to meet you, and yes, I shampooed him,” Beau said, wiping his hand on his apron and then extending his arm for a shake. “Sorry, I’ve been up to my elbows in doggie bubble bath today.”

“No worries.” I waved him off.
“Lana’s a reporter,” Kevin said.
“Former reporter,” I countered.
“Whatever. She’s the one who found Jack dead in the garden.” Kevin’s mocha-colored eyes grew wide. “No way.”

“Way. I was wondering if you knew him.”

Beau snorted. “I knew him quite well. Worked for him for five years, walking his dog.”

My reporter antennae perked up and I leaned my elbow on the half-door like I was bellying up to a bar. “Oh, really?”

“Yep.” He shook his head, and I could’ve sworn tears came to his eyes. “I miss Bella Pugosi something fierce.”

“That’s quite a name. Was that his dog?” I probed gently.
Beau nodded. “A puggle. A doll of a doggo.”
“Did you like working for him? How’d you meet him?”
“He found me on one of those pet-sitting apps, back when I was

starting my walking and grooming business here on the island. I adored Bella immediately, and since Jack was getting up there in age, he asked me to walk her six days a week.”

“Hmm,” I said, hoping Beau would continue talking.

“Jack was a bit finicky about Bella. Didn’t want me to take him to the dog beach, didn’t like the dog park at all. I didn’t mind, though. Bella seemed to enjoy half-hour walks around the neighborhood. But what Jack did later really torqued me off.”

“What happened?”

“One day, about six months ago, on a Tuesday, that’s when it all went down. It was my day off and I went for a hike by myself. Usu- ally, I never walk without a dog or Kevin, but that day I needed some quiet time, you know?”

I nodded enthusiastically. My quiet time generally revolved around my sofa, a cup of coffee, and a book, but to each their own.

“As I was walking, I was deep in the Swamp. You know, the one with the trails and the monkeys in the middle of the island?”

I nodded. I was well familiar with the Swamp because Dad was a monkey activist, trying to keep the primates on-island and contained to that park.

“Well, I saw Jack there on the trail. Not on the boardwalk, but the muddier part, well in the Swamp.”

“What was wrong with that?”
Beau’s eyes flashed angrily. “He was with Bella. Unleashed.” His last word hung in the air, and I reared back, stunned. No one takes their dogs unleashed into the Swamp.


 A Bean to Die For (A Coffee Lover's Mystery) by Tara Lush

About A Bean to Die For

A Bean to Die For (A Coffee Lover's Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 4th in Series
Setting - Florida
Publisher: ‎ Crooked Lane Books (January 9, 2024)
Hardcover: ‎ 288 pages

Perfect for fans of Cleo Coyle and Lucy Burdette, reporter-turned-barista Lana Lewis is back on the case when a body is dug up in the community garden.

Lana Lewis is brewing up new concoctions at Perkatory, a popular café in Devil’s Beach, when she decides she wants to try her hand at growing her own coffee. She secures a gardening plot in the community garden, thanks to her father and the garden’s owner, Darla. Darla’s list of rules is long, but that doesn’t stop someone from leaving Jack Daggett’s body amongst the gardening plots.

Jack, an environmental activist, had been banned from the garden previously, because of his many fights with Darla about organic produce. Lana promises her boyfriend, police chief Noah, that she’s going to stay out of this case, having been too involved in previous cases. But when she learns that Jack died from an accidental overdose, and Darla is the top suspect because of her shady past, Lana can't help but poke around in an attempt to clear Darla's name.

As Lana dives deeper into the case, she learns that Jack had more enemies than she realized. When Darla turns up dead, Lana has to turn up the heat on her investigation. With Lana on the case, it won’t be long before someone spills the beans to crack this case wide open. But will she able to find the killer before they strike again?

About Tara Lush

Tara Lush is a Florida-based author and journalist. She's an RWA Rita finalist, an Amtrak writing fellow, and the winner of the George C. Polk Award for environmental journalism.

She was a reporter with The Associated Press in Florida, covering crime, alligators, natural disasters, and politics. She also writes contemporary romance set in tropical locations under the name Tamara Lush.

Tara is a fan of vintage pulp fiction book covers, Sinatra-era jazz, 1980s fashion, tropical chill, kombucha, gin, tonic, seashells, iPhones, Art Deco, telenovelas, street art, coconut anything, strong coffee and newspapers. She lives on the Gulf Coast with her husband and two dogs.

Her debut mystery series is published by Crooked Lane Books.  

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