Roast Mortem (Coffee House Mystery)
by Cleo Coyle
Cover Artist: Cathy Gendron
Review by Gayle Surrette
Berkley Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425234594
Date: 03 August 2010 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Clare Cosi is content. Things have calmed down considerably since the last book. Mike Quinn took her to a family gathering where she met most of his relatives, nearly all of them firefighters or wife of firefighters, and also agreed to become involved with a fundraising event for the NYFD. She's nervous about what to bring to the event. Meanwhile, Madame has heard from an old friend who called and has a very old espresso machine to give to the Blend. So, Clair and Madame set out to meet Enzo Testa at Cafe Lucia. They're not impressed with his daughter's manners but Enzo is gracious and charming. Clare admires his mural and is even more impressed that Enzo is the artist. The visit goes longer than expected so they're all in the cafe when the explosion rips through the back and sets the place afire trapping Enzo and Madame in the basement.
Starting with the explosion and fire, the action and nail-biting excitement continues to the last page. Or so it seems, as the pacing is so well done that you feel constantly on edge but, in fact, there are periods of calm. Coyle makes those moments of calm feel like the calm before the storm as all the various plot threads come together in a tense finale.
I found Roast Mortem, to be the best of the series so far. Clare Costi, our view point character, has changed a lot from the first book. She's much less likely to be controlling of those around her. She's learning to let go of her daughter, Joy, and to accept that she's an adult now. She's even managed to settle into a friendly and cordial working relationship with her ex-husband. This mystery takes that all into consideration and there's more story than Clare angst. Does Clare still get in trouble seeking to find the guilty party? You bet, she does. Clare is still loyal, caring, and willing to jump in whenever someone she cares about is in trouble, hurt, or in need.
What hasn't changed in the Coffeehouse Mysteries, is the twisty nature of the mystery that leaves you guessing until very near the end, and the wonderful characters who populate the Village Blend and the lives of these very real characters. Once again a treat to enjoy with your favorite coffee drink.
Also included in the book is a Guide to Roasting Coffee and recipes for: Madame's Osso Buco; Clare Coci's Jim Beam Bourbon Steak; Clare Cosi's Crab Cakes; Clare's Thai-style Seafood Sauce; Clare's Sweet and Tangy Thai-style Coleslaw; Clare's Thai-style Dipping Sauce; Clare Cosi's Korean-style Sweet and Sticky Soy-Garlic Chicken Wings; James noonan's Firehouse Sweet Onion and Cheddar Bake; Caramelized Bacon Bits; James Noonan's Triple-Threat Firehouse Penne Mac 'n' Cheese; James Noonan's Firehouse Non-Beer Batter Onion Rings; Clare Cosi's Doughnut Muffins and Jelly Doughnut variation; Clare Cosi's Magnificent Melt-in-Your-Mouth Mocha Brownies; Poor Girl's crème Brulee; Clare Cosi's Blueberry 'N'Cream Coffee Cake Pie; and Joy's Mini Cake-Mix Biscotti. [Note: I made the Doughnut Muffins and they're moist and delicious.