Thursday, May 30, 2013

Espresso yourself

The world must be ending. I've now managed to update 3 days in a row.

Finally finished Cleo Coyle's new Coffeehouse Mystery, A Brew to a Kill. (As I understand it, Cleo Coyle is a pen name, and the same author also writes the Haunted Bookshop Mysteries as Alice Kimberly. However, give a few plot elements that crop up in a few books, I'm alsmost wondering if there isn't some ghostwriting going on as well. We'll come back to that.)

The series takes place in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. Claire Cosi runs The Village Blend on behalf of her octogenarian ex-mother-in-law, Madame Dreyfus Allegro Dubois. Her ex-husband, Matteo, travels the world buying coffee beans for the business. They have a daughter named Joy, who's currently in culinary school in Paris. As the series has progressed, so has Claire's relationship with Mike, the Homicide detective who now runs the OD squad for NYPD. And Joy has been dating Franco, one of Mike's subordinates. Matteo, on the other hand is now married to a wealthy socialite. (Mind you, it's an open marriage, but hey...)

The current book starts with a hit and run accident outside the blend following a meeting between Claire, Matteo, Madame, and Lilly Beth Tanga. Lilly Beth, a woman of Philippians decent who is consulting on healthier options  for the Blend's new food truck, gets struck by a white van following a confrontation with the Kupcake Kween's food truck. The Kupcake Kween food truck is run by a business rival, and blasts the names of cupcakes sold in a bad French accent to the tune of "Ma Vie in Rose".

On top of this, Matteo's new Brazilian bean shipment seems to have picked up a few surprises, namely a new form of Brazilian crack-cocaine the dealer wants him to distribute.

Over the course of the rest of the story, we get our usual blend of red herrings as to who was behind both the first hit and run as well as the second (at a food truck reception), plus a conclusion that features the series' hallmark, Claire finding out at least one mystery by becoming a woman in jeopardy at the hands of the bad guy.

Oh yes. Much as I love this series and the recipes both in the book and at her website, I honestly feel the NYPD homicide squad should just covertly tail Claire whenever a murder happens anywhere near the Blend, since she'll inevitably get kidnapped, assaulted, etc by the bad guy.

Also, one of the traits that leads me to believe that a few books are getting ghost written here or at least edited is the occasional brief mention of the supernatural in a few books in the series. In the first book, she reads coffee grounds. That's never shown up again. Occasionally, we get a mildly prophetic dream that half the time only tangentially relates to the plot.

The series as a whole makes for a nice afternoon read, even if it does require a visit to whatever local coffeehouse is nearby.