Cleo Coyle (aka Alice and Marc) sent me two books right before the holiday season and I quite rapidly consumed them both! The first, Once Upon a Grind, had just been issued in paperback. (I review it here.) The second was particularly delightful for two reasons: it had just been released in hardback. And, the plot includes Clare relocating to Washington, DC (see NYPD boyfriend had been relocated to work with federal agencies earlier in the series). The title? Dead to the Last Drop.
Perhaps because of the changed setting, Dead to the Last Drop feels a bit more memorable than Once Upon a Grind (which I admit I devoured at a speed which may have interfered with absorption). The plot involves a young woman with a passion for music, presidential family politics (yes, the young woman is the daughter of a president), and much more. Suffice it to say that this Cleo Coyle plot veers a tiny bit in the direction of a thriller, and as is sometimes a cliche in such works, our favorite sleuth (and her boyfriend) are suspects in complex ways.
I am not, I have to admit, much when it comes to music. I barely understand it -- though I do like some and I live with a partner for whom music is almost as important as food. Perhaps, music is more important in some ways. This book reminds me why music can be important because a major plot aspect has to do with playing the piano out of love for playing the piano, and playing jazz rather than classical out of love for that. Indeed, the book is, impart, about the place of improvisation with others as a critical part of life. This theme, woven as it is throughout the book, is part of what makes this a novel rather that a murder mystery if you are one of the sort of people who draw such (usually invidious) distinctions. The jazz enters the plot because rather than pretend that the opening of Village Bland DC automatically went well, they are struggling for dollars and clientele which leads to the opening of a jazz venue on the second floor. (And, by the way, eventually to changing of the chef, which is a good lesson in personnel management -- and self care -- for those whose lives involve hiring and/or firing.)
As is the case with earlier parts of this series, location comes to play a major part -- elsewhere it is NYC with almost the centrality of a main character and in this case it is DC. And, the fondness and detail are there, just as they are when Cleo (yes, aka Alice and Marc) focus on NYC, where they live.
And, here, too, the titular humor of Dead to the Last Drop points us in various directions -- the famous Maxwell House advertising slogan, and some vampire lore, where dead to the last drop has a very different meaning. On the Maxwell House slogan, and its complex history, click here.
Thans Cleo. I love your work -- and I needed it! Happy 2016!