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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The Sunday Salon: Shifting Seasons

The Sunday

Labor Day weekend doesn’t really have a lot of significance when you work from home as a writer. My “office” is the Internet, which never closes, and there are weeks when I choose to work Saturday and Sunday and skip Monday and Tuesday, and other weeks when I work a more conventional schedule. It depends on deadlines and whether or not I’m feeling at all creative.

Naked Heat

In the part of Texas where I live, Labor Day weekend doesn’t bring much of a temperature change, either. Sure, the days of being able to swim instead of sweat for exercise are dwindling, and the nights are getting a little cooler, but summer often lingers into October here, at least, if you go by the thermometer.

Long years of conditioning, however, have marked this weekend as the time when I shift my reading away from summer “beach” books (and I mean that literally – last year I read all of Elin Hilderbrand’s Nantucket novels; this year I still have Summer Rental and Maine to finish) to other types of books.

For some reason, I read a lot of mysteries in the fall. Maybe it’s because the falling leaves and cooling days lend a touch of unpredictability to my mood, or maybe it’s because the earlier sunsets and lingering darkness in the morning are sort of murky and shadowy.

Already in the last week or so, I finish last year’s “Castle” tie-in Naked Heat, and I’m half-way through Cleo Coyle’s latest coffeehouse mystery, Murder by Mocha.

Murder by Mocha

I’ll read other stuff of course, but for me, fall is Mystery Season.

What about you? Does your reading shift with the calendar, or do you simply read whatever your mood calls for?