Review: Murder by Mocha

Readers Imbibing Peril (art by Melissa Nucera)

Murder by Mocha
Cleo Coyle

Description (from
The national bestselling author of Roast Mortem serves readers a fresh new Coffeehouse Mystery.

Includes chocolate recipes!

A divorced, single mom in her forties, Clare Cosi is a coffee shop manager by day, an irrepressible snoop by night. When something is wrong, she considers it her mission in life to right it, and murder is as wrong as it gets.

Can coffee enhance your love life? Clare’s Village Blend coffee beans are being used to create a new java love potion: a Mocha Magic Coffee that’s laced with an herbal aphrodisiac. The product, expected to rake in millions, will be sold exclusively on Aphrodite’s Village, one of the most popular online communities for women. But at the product’s launch party, one of the website’s editors is murdered. Clare is convinced someone wants control of the coffee’s secret formula and is willing to kill to get it. Can she stir up evidence against this bitter killer? Or will she be next on the hit list?

Murder by Mocha

I’m not entirely sure what prompted me to start reading Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse Mysteries, but I fell in love with her work pretty much instantly. Why wouldn’t I? I’ve been a barista, and I am a coffee snob.

In the most recent addition to this series, Clare Cosi is getting more and more serious with her police detective boyfriend Mike Quinn, and there are two separate murder cases. One’s Clare’s baby, and involves the company funding Mocha Magic, the chocolatey coffee aphrodisiac for which her beans are being used. The other’s a cold case that involves Mike’s colleague (and Clare’s daughter’s lover) Franco.

As always the dialogue is snappy, the descriptions of place feel three dimensional, and the plot is gripping without being too bloody or too silly. It was nice to see Clare’s ex in a helpful role this time, and I get a big kick out of her (former) mother-in-law, as well as the staff of the Village Blend Coffeehouse.

Cosi’s books are always a great way to fall into a season of Autumn mystery reading, and this one marks my first official entry in the 2011 R.I.P. celebration of dark literature.

Goes well with: a salted caramel mocha.

Murder by Mocha
Cleo Coyle
Berkeley, August 2011
384 pages
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Mini-Review: Decaffeinated Corpse

Decaffeinated Corpse
Decaffeinated Corpse
by Cleo Coyle
Berkley, 288 pages
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Let’s face it, the recipes in the backs of Cleo Coyle’s coffeehouse mysteries are not exactly keys to quick trim weight loss, but the reality is, as much fun as the recipes are (and I’ve actually tried some of them) it’s the cozy Village Blend coffeehouse and the adventures of cafe manager Clare Cosi that keep us reading.

In Book 5 of the Coffeehouse Mysteries, Clare is investigating her husband’s friend, a coffee grower and playboy from Costa Gravas, who just happens to be the breeder of a decaffeinated coffee plant – as in, no need to water process the beans. There are, of course, corpses in the story, and the mystery this time seemed a bit trickier than the first four novels, but I also read this one out of sequence, since I reviewed another of Ms. Coyle’s books, Holiday Grind in All Things Girl over the holidays.

In that book, the relationship between Clare in NYPD Detective Mike Quinn had become pretty solid; in this one, they shared their first kiss.

As always, Ms. Coyle’s blend of romance, mystery, intrigue, and coffee suits me perfectly when I want light reading.

Reviewed Elsewhere: Holiday Grind, by Cleo Coyle

Holiday Blend

From the moment I first picked up a Cleo Coyle novel, I knew I’d found a kindred spirit – two really – one in Ms. Coyle herself, and the other in her lead character Clare Cosi, who cooks with an Italian flair and has espresso running in her veins.

Recently, I read Ms. Coyle’s latest coffeehouse novel, Holiday Grind which features cafe owner and amateur detective tracking down the person responsible for killing her customer (and friend), Alf, who spends his winter days as a street corner Santa Claus.

If you’ve never read a coffeehouse mystery, you should know that all the books are the type of cozy mysteries that go best with froufrou espresso drinks, chocolate dipped biscotti, and the crackling sound from Amish fireplaces.

Look for my review of Holiday Grind later this month in All Things Girl.

Teaser Tuesdays: Holiday Grind by Cleo Coyle

On Teaser Tuesdays readers are asked to:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between 7 and 12 lines.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given.

My teaser this week is from Holiday Grind, by Cleo Coyle. I’ve been reading it from my cozy house, where it finally feels like November (49 degrees at 6:41 PM) and taking breaks to mock the people across the street who don’t seem to know how their moving truck works.

If you don’t know the Coffeehouse Mysteries, you should seriously check them out. Anyway, here’s the teaser:

There was nothing like walking through the Village on a snowy winter night. The few vehicles on the slippery street crept along no faster than horse-drawn carriages. Every surface appeared flocked with white; the pungent smell of active old fireplaces floated through the air; and bundled couples hurried past dark storefronts, eager to get back to their warm apartments or inside a cozy pub for a glass of mulled wine or mug of Irish coffee.

As I passed by St. Luke’s churchyard, the whole world seemed to go silent, save the icy flurries that still pecked at my parka and the crunch, crunch, crunching of my winter boots. At one intersection I stood alone, watching a traffic light provide a signal for crossroads that had no traffic. Hands in pockets, I waited half amused as the bright red light flipped to green in an unintentional
Christmas display just for me.

from Holiday Grind, chapter 3, by Cleo Coyle.