Murder by Mocha is
the tenth mystery outing of intrepid Clare Cosi, manager of the fictional Village Blend coffeehouse in New York City. As usual, Cleo (who is, in reality, the husband and wife writing team of Marc Cerasini and Alice Alfonsi) does a bang-up job of creating characters, environments, and situations that involve the reader in exciting ways.
This plot is convoluted and involved but also seems tongue in cheek about online groups that encompass the idea of an umbrella business, with many hands taking part of the different aspects of the organization. Clare is back in the middle of the brouhaha, of course, along with her significant other, cop extraordinaire Mike Quinn; her irritatingly often-present ex-husband, Matt; her lovely daughter, Joy; and the owner of the Village Blend, the aging but ever lovely Madame Dubois.
Clare and Madame have agreed to roast a special blend of coffee beans to be used in a new product. It is being marketed through Aphrodite’s Village and the “Sisters of Aphrodite” that maintain and publicize the group's many branches. However, before the instant coffee (a blend of herbs and Village Blend coffees) product can be launched, the bizarre begins to happen. A man dies in a hotel room…or does he? Who is the mysterious murderer lurking within the pages of Murder by Mocha? Can Clare and her cohorts figure out what is going on before Village Blend is sucked down into oblivion, along with the new product, which has a secret ingredientor two?
One of the things I enjoy about this series is the constant change in relationships and developing personas. Mike and Clare are moving toward something special, something serious. Joy is out on her own now, in culinary school and rapidly falling for a cop of her own, the handsome Franco. Madame
keeps an undivulged secret in this story, too – one that even Matt, her only child, isn’t aware of. This story seems more complicated and twisty than most of the Clare Cosi novelsnot in a bad way, since Coyle seems to keep the reins in “their” competent hands at all times. Nevertheless, it is not a book for a quick read-through, for you will miss some of the plot’s twists and turns and feel rather lost if you don’t pay attention!
As always, the compilation of scrumptious-sounding recipes follows the story, such as the Peanut Butter Surprises (cookies) or special recipes for cocoa and lattes. I always take the time to try one or two of the recipes in any mystery that has them, and believe you me, these recipes are to die for. Want more Cleo Coyle? Check out their website,
www.coffeehousemystery.com, for more information about the husband and wife writing duo, more fabulous recipes, and a look at other books, both in this series and others.