Murder by Mocha (Coffee House Mystery)
by Cleo Coyle
Cover Artist: Cathy Gendron
Review by Gayle Surrette
Berkley Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425241431
Date: 02 August 2011 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
For Claire Cosi, manager of the Village Blend coffeehouse, things were just about back to normal since the events of Roast Mortem. Now there was a new worry. Madam had contracted with an old friend who now worked for Aphrodite to have the Village Blend be part of the release of a new coffee product – a coffee love potion or aphrodisiac – called Mocha Magic Coffee. No one at the Blend knows what the ingredients are. In fact, no one that Claire has talked to even knows Alicia Bower, or remembers her being a friend of Madam's – not even Matteo Allegro, Madam's son.
Things take a turn for the weird when Madam calls Claire to come help her and Alicia. When Claire arrives she's told there's a dead man in Alicia's hotel room. Claire insists on calling the police, but they insist she check for herself first. Claire checks and calls the police but when they arrive the body is gone along with all the evidence.
You'd think that would be enough, but then you're not taking into account how weird some business models can be, and Aphrodite's Village has some very strange corporate policies. Before you know a decaf from an espresso, Claire is discovering bodies one after another, getting high on coffee, trying to hide Joy's romance from her father, and dealing with her boyfriend, Mike Quinn, a detective with NYPD. There's several plot threads being developed and yet there was no confusion over what is happening. Instead the confusion is over who the culprit is and why is he or she killing – this one kept me guessing to the final chapter.
This series has been developing over each of the books, with the plots getting more and more intricate as the cast of characters grows and changes based on the events of the previous and current book. Like most series books, you come to enjoy visiting their lives and problems and sharing in their joys – all while secretly glad you don't have to deal with any of these problems.
Don't worry about just jumping into the series with this book, there's enough information on the backstory to bring new readers up to speed. Cleo Coyle is the pen name for husband and wife writing team who actually live in New York City and obviously enjoy coffee.
Recipes using coffee are, as usual, included at the back of the book. I actually made the Aphrodisiac Brownies which contain chocolate, coffee, and cinnamon. These brownies were moist, rich, and sinfully delicious. Now I've got to try some of the other recipes – so far I've made at least one recipe from each of the mysteries and all have turned out well. Give them a try even if you've never used coffee in your cooking before.