I am deeply fond of Cleo Coyle's work, and not just because she sends me her books but because she is also one of the first people (and I do mean a person!) I met through this blog. It has been delightful reading her work and, though we have never met, feeling like I "know" the author. (Okay, admittedly Cleo is actually two people, but. . . ) So, this is the first of two I shall write about her newer work, which arrived in the mail near the holiday season.
Cleo Coyle is, of course, a pseudonym. for Alice Alfonsi and Marc Creasing, who write the Coffee House Mysteries. Each of the books focuses on a coffee shop located in Greenwich Village, and its manager, Clare, is an amateur who finds herself solving murders across the series. This is the 14th in the series, released recently in paperback. As always, there are recipes and coffee tips -- and, as always -- a delightful plot. In this case, Clare and her pals dress up a truck to be part of a fairytale event in NYC< and everything moves on from there. The ex-wife of Clare's beau, her own ex-husband and more populate the narrative, including a "magical" coffee bean that Max (the ex husband) has found in his travels in support of the coffee business. Though it sounds supernatural, this mystery's featured coffee bean has a fully natural explanation (and hence the role of a scientist who works on coffee -- would have loved to learn more about this). Drinking the coffee made from the bean has unusual effects, and this turns out to be useful in figuring out various clues.
Like some of Cleo's other mysteries, this one features a mix of "real" features of the NYC landscape and figures who seem a bit like "real" features of the landscape, from well known restaurants to NFL figures. My personal favorite this time around is a former NFL player who runs one of those medieval fantasy villages. There is, though, a bit of local color, focused on Russian and post-soviet union immigrants, as well as a bit of focus on women as they age. I am I have to admit, a fan, for example, of Clare's ex-mother-in-law, who refuses to age quietly out of the picture. Thank goodness.
Though I have said little about the mystery itself, I hope that you will do what I would suggest: get this book, hunker down in front of a fire place (if you live where that is reasonable!) and enjoy yourself. I did. It was one of the best things about the holidays (other than being home!).