by Cleo Coyle
Greenwich Village coffee shop manager and amateur sleuth Clare Cosi is faced with her most perilous mystery yet in Latte Trouble, the third Coffeehouse Mystery by Cleo Coyle (On What Grounds and Through the Grinder).
It’s Fashion Week in New York City — and Clare’s shop, the historic Village Blend, is the location of a prestigious insider’s party for loyal customer and iconic designer Lottie Harmon, who is about to launch a collection of coffee-inspired accessories aptly named Java Jewelry. But the event, which is attended by the city’s most zealous fashionistas, goes terribly wrong when a customer is poisoned and dies from cyanide in his latte. A barista, who coincidentally was recently dumped by the victim, is arrested and charged with murder. But Clare knows in her heart that her employee is innocent and begins to investigate the people surrounding the enigmatic Lottie Harmon. When Clare uncovers a scheme to blackmail one of Lottie’s business partners and then that partner suddenly turns up dead, she knows that there is trouble brewing
Sorry for the lack of reviews the last two weeks! I’m back and ready to talk about the third book in the Coffeehouse Mystery series, Latte Trouble. Clare Cosi is still managing the Village Blend, which is hosting the launch party for Lottie Harmon’s Java Jewelry line. Fashion Week has taken over the quaint coffeehouse and everything is running smoothly until someone tries to kill Lottie. Clare will do anything to clear the name of a trusted employee, so once again, she hits the streets searching for clues.
Latte Trouble is much better written than the two previous books in Coyle’s Coffeehouse Mystery series. It seems as if the husband and wife writing team have finally smoothed out their style because the plot was better developed, the characters a tad deeper, and the flow perfect for a cozy mystery. The coffee confection instructions were less forced and melded seamlessly with the mystery plotline, and I remained pleasantly surprised at the end despite picking out the killer by chapter two. I even found the main subject interesting despite never being one to follow the trends of high fashion jewelry. The series seems to be getting better!
I was a tad irked about some of the character development. The hints about Madame’s time in prison was a dangling carrot that just pissed me off; you cant mention that and then not explain! And poor Quinn. We finally learn some concrete details about his tormented marriage and I hope he leaves his wife in book four. I’m not one to push divorce but its difficult to sympathize with a wife who constantly cheats on her husband and then kidnaps their children to keep him from leaving her. Clare and Matt’s progression from exes to friends develops realistically, but I was sick of Clare constantly bouncing between ‘Matt has changed!’ and ‘Matt will never change.” She just needed to have an epiphany and realized that her ex-husband has definitely matured but is not a totally different person. All these things are just irksome little things I would have pointed out during editing; they do nothing to diminish the story.
The only real complaint I had was over the subplot involving Joy and her clubbing activities. I expected more from Clare concerning her daughter’s lies and extra curricular activities. I expected her to confront Joy instead of just asking Matt to talk to their daughter. Really? Expect your irresponsible ex-husband to handle the ‘are you crazy? don’t do drugs’ conversation with your grown daughter? The ex-husband that you’re convinced hasn’t changed his wild ways? Nope. I hope this point is resolved in the next book because it definitely wasn’t here (grumble, grumble, grumble).
Latte Trouble is a fun cozy mystery (just ignore the Joy subplot). This series is still quite enjoyable despite some irksome qualities and I am having fun tagging along on Clare’s mystery filled life. Have you checked out the Coffeehouse Mystery series? What do you think?