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A Brew to a Kill, by Cleo Coyle
I love cozy mysteries that give you a taste of the location and local community and Cleo Coyle does not disappoint. As her characters move from one scene to the next in the 11th of her Coffeehouse Mysteries, readers are once again treated to the sounds, smells and flavors of Greenwich Village, NY.
Author Cleo Coyle has taken us from the aromatic “On What Grounds” to a steaming cup of “A Brew to a Kill” delivering mocha and murder all the way. Although I’m not a fan of books in first person, Coyle manages to expertly peek into the other character’s thoughts by observing facial expressions, body posture, and tone of voice. I’m soon lost in Greenwich Village. We immediately are aware of Coyle’s love of coffee and her knowledge of the valuable bean. Drop into the series at any time as Ms. Coyle sprinkles exposition at the right times so you know who is who. But don’t get too comfortable on your chair. Pay attention. Before the crema dissolves, the first death is on the menu.
Her books open from the eyes of a cold killer, and we are pulled along as his or her plan is carried out. Then, like a dollop of cream, we are plopped right into the middle of Clare Cosi’s coffee house, amid whirring espresso machines and clinking of spoons.
Clare’s ex is Mateo Allegro, her business partner and yummy morsel of a man who handles the coffee buying. Her new love is Officer Mike Quinn, who proves himself valuable to the plot of each book. While the relationship between Quinn and Cosi is believable and essential, the moments between Mateo and Clare are comical and oh so fun to intrude upon. In this book, we are introduced to Detective Buckman, a new cop in the series. Ms. Coyle manages to keep him from being a stock character and serves him up with background, dimension and empathy.
In one scene, Esther, Dante and Clare assume the roles of mother, bride and groom to enter a Cantonese bakery to obtain information. As Clare walks ahead, we are teased with mouthwatering aromas, descriptions of fresh pastries and images of cupcakes and cookies. An ensuing scuffle provides comical fun as the trio attempts to extricate themselves from the scenario. For passionate coffee lovers, this series delivers facts, flavors and aromas, and the right amount of information to require a highlighter for future reference.
In another scene, Clare and Mateo are sampling a new brew and we are rewarded with this:
“First the brightness. A berry . . . there are notes of cocoa, … like a Belgian-style milk chocolate. …[A] caramel sweetness, but it’s more than just sugars caramelizing in the roasting process…. This is a toasty, buttery caramel, like a shortbread, rolling around the mouth with complexity….”
Before you can enjoy the second notes of the rich liquid, the reader is jolted out and into a much bigger problem. Really big. Enough to get Clare and Mateo flat on the ground of the coffee warehouse in handcuffs. We are soon treated to the many faces of Officer Mike Quinn as he deals with the mess they are in and the new loop in the plot. I like these characters. All of them. Even the seldom seen Madam Dubois, Mateo’s mother. Her grace and slight naughtiness is the tie that keeps Clare and Mateo unfortunately linked. But for us, it’s a good thing. Whether you start at the beginning, or settle in with this latest in the series, you’ll have enjoyed an intriguing part of town, been pulled along on a clever ride of murder, and met fully dimensional characters you’ll wish were at your nearest café. I miss everyone already and can’t wait until the next book is released! Until then, I’ll be on http://coffeehousemysteries.com/ enjoying the author’s recipes, message boards, and the latest news.