Latte Trouble

Latte Trouble

by Cleo Coyle

Latte Trouble (Coffeehouse Mystery, #3)

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?

Lindsay

Through the Grinder

Through the Grinder

by Cleo Coyle

Through the Grinder (Coffeehouse Mystery, #2)

Business is booming at Clare Cosi’s Village Blend, until her female customers start to die. Lieutenant Quinn is convinced that someone has an axe to grind, and, unfortunately, his prime suspect is the new man in Clare’s life.

Now Clare will risk her heart–and her life–to follow the killer’s trail to the bitter end.

I am on a cozy mystery kick, you know, for research.  I sped through the first Coffeehouse Mystery novel, On What Grounds, last week and immediately picked up book two.  Through the Grinder takes place just weeks after On What Grounds, and we find Clare, Matt, and Joy entwined in a new murder mystery!

Sorry guys; I have to start with the negative points this time.  There a number of small details that made Through the Grinder irksome.  Obvious red herrings should only be used in a comedic setting; that didn’t happen here.  There were far too many red herrings and they overpowered the story.  Plus, they were annoying.  There are a number of passages written from the killer’s point of view.  I am sure these were included to develop suspense but they only serve to diminish it because these sections destroy the story’s flow.  Through the Grinder would have been stronger if both elements were left out.  It pains me to admit this, but the coffee information was overdone and felt forced the entire book.  I liked the coffee making lessons; they are an integral part of the story.  But in the middle of an interrogation?  Really Clare?

Now, don’t let those points keep you from reading Through the Grinder.  The story was still fun, suspenseful, and interesting.  It was the perfect cozy mystery to read on a rainy day and I enjoyed the relationship development between numerous characters.  I also like how Clare lucky blunders through her investigations.  Coyle does a wonderful job of painting relatively realistic characters and almost all the relationships develop along a reasonable timeline.  Plus, Clare has a blunt outlook on life that somewhat mirrors my own.  Labeling potential dates like she does her coffee?  Nice.  It was fun and I already have book three in my TBR lineup.

Side note:  I wanted more Detective Quinn.  I have a weakness for cops and I love his gruff personality.  I was not thrilled that he is still married, but hopefully he’ll get everything worked out in the next book.  The friendship between Quinn and Clare is progressing realistically, and I will be irked if he ends up with her immediately after his divorce.  Just saying.

On to book three!!!  Who else enjoys the Cleo Coyle Coffehouse Mystery series?  What do you think about the characters?

Lindsay

On What Grounds

On What Grounds

by Cleo Coyle

On What Grounds (Coffeehouse Mystery, #1)

Introducing a delightful new series featuring Clare Cosi, manager of the historic Village Blend coffeehouse…

Clare arrives at work to discover the assistant manager dead in the back of the store, coffee grounds strewn everywhere. Two detectives investigate. But when they find no sign of forced entry or foul play, they deem it an accident. Still, Clare is not convinced. And after the police leave, Clare can’t help wondering…If this was an act of murder, is she in danger?

I have wanted to read On What Grounds for months, and I finally developed a decent excuse to pick it up.  I am currently working on my own mystery story, more on that tomorrow, and wanted to research the small details that make characters real.  Yep, I read On What Grounds for research 😉

I’m not going to provide my own summary because it would make my review way too long.  So lets jump right in!  Cleo Coyle is the husband and wife writing team of Marc Cerasini and Alice Alfonsi.  On What Grounds is a debut novel and the first in the extensive Coffeehouse Mystery Series.  The writing style may feel a little underdeveloped for many readers, but I was pleasantly surprised by their detailed descriptions and scenery building.  The writing was so fluid that I was shocked that two people wrote it together!  I felt like I was in the Village Blend and I fell in love with the unique coffee shop.  I also had no problem connecting with Clare, the intelligent and stubborn Blend manager.  The mystery is different, with a few surprising twists, and Coyle had me guessing until the very end.  All the characters feel real despite their eccentricities.  You can expect to see more Coffeehouse Mystery Series reviews this year.

I was surprised to find that On What Grounds had received a few ‘beat down’ reviews on Goodreads.  I checked these out and was just plain irked at the reoccurring list of complaints.  Here are the three most common and what I have to say about them:

1. Too much description about the different coffees and how to prepare them:  I personally loved these details!  I learned so much and was ready to run out and buy everything I needed to make these drinks.  It is stupid to read a book centered around a coffee shop and be annoyed to read about coffee.

2. Clare is an idiot for hooking up with her cheating ex-husband:  She doesn’t hook up with him; she just makes-out with him for a second.  Plus, there are passages dedicated to describing their convoluted relationship and Clare’s continual attraction and love for her ex.  She spends the whole book fighting off his advances and her own demons.  Come on people; she’s only human!

3.  Stuff just happened too easily/Clare’s detective skills are unrealistic:  Ok, I agree that Clare’s detective skills are unrealistic at the beginning of the book, but it evens out as the story progresses.  Stuff should happen relatively easily in cozy mysteries.  That is why they are cozy mysteries and not extensive criminal dramas.  They need to be quick and fun to read; any so-called fan of the genre would know this and shouldn’t whine about it.

So, that ends my Goodreads review rant.  My negative points of On What Grounds are short and sweet.  I did not like the prologue.  I understand why it was used but I feel it hurts the flow of the story instead of helping it.  And it was very difficult to like Madame.  Nothing pisses me off more than family members, such as mothers and mother-in-laws, butting in on matters that do not concern them.  Her brazen attempts to get Matt and Clare back together just irked me.  There is no way I would have been as sweet and kind as Clare if it was me.  But that’s it!

I really enjoyed On What Grounds.  It is a fun cozy mystery that places readers in a unique setting, a coffee shop instead of an antique or clothing shop, with an enjoyably stubborn female lead.  I cant wait to start the next book in the series, and I have to schedule a writing day at the local coffee shop next week!  What do you think of the Coffeehouse Mystery series?

Lindsay