Monday, August 22, 2011
Clare's Village Blend coffee beans are being used to create a new java love potion: a "Mocha Magic Coffee," billed as an 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 its launch, one of the website's editors is murdered. Clare is convinced a bitter killer wants the secret formula. Can she catch who's gone loco for mocha? -- Berkley Prime Crime
MURDER BY MOCHA by Cleo Coyle is the tenth book in the Coffeehouse Mystery series, and I can't believe that it's taken me this long to discover these books. It's one of those cozy series that I've always wanted to read because it love the concept behind the novels, but it wasn't until a few days ago that I finally picked up one. And I have to say that I'm really glad I did because it was a very fun book! That is... if a book about gruesome murders can be called fun.
First of all, the idea behind the Coffeehouse Mysteries is adorable, and I think MURDER BY MOCHA is especially cute. The amateur sleuth is Clare Cosi, the head barista of the Village Blend coffee shop in Greenwich Village; and I really liked her character. So right off the bat, I'm hooked -- a great character, a great setting, and lots of talk about coffee drinks. Can it get much better than that? Well, the answer is yes. The mystery in MURDER BY MOCHA also involves a new coffee and chocolate flavored love potion called "Mocha Magic Coffee" so there's lots of chocolate confections included too!
And that leads me to another great thing about this book (and actually the entire series.) MURDER BY MOCHA not only include references to coffee and chocolate, but the book includes loads of amazing recipes in the back. If a food or beverage was mentioned in the course of the novel, Ms. Coyle included a recipe along with tips. For example, there are recipes for Aphrodisiac Brownies, Frozen Mesixan Choco-Latte, Clare Cosi's Fettucine with "Italian Mole," Clare Cosi's Moist Mocha Cake with Shiny Chocolate Guinness Glaze, and many more! You can even visit the virtual Village Blend where you will find even more recipes.
I thought MURDER BY MYSTERY had a great ensemble of characters, and I liked so many of them. From the baristas in the Village Blend, to Clare's family, to Clare's love interest, to the NYPD detectives, I enjoyed all of them and I especially appreciated their interactions with each other. Clare was romantically involved with Mike, an NYPD detective, and he was also a very likable (and hot!) character. And if you like a little sexual chemistry in your cozies, then this series might be the one for you. Of course, a huge part of this book surrounded a love potion and aphrodisiacs...
While MURDER BY MYSTERY can definitely be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel, I admit that I did find myself wishing that I had read some earlier books in the series. The author did an excellent job of sharing enough past information about the characters so that I didn't feel lost; however, I think I would have felt even more involved in the characters' lives had I actually read the other books. So it probably doesn't come as a surprise that I really want to go back and read the other books... and recipes.
So you're probably wondering by now, since it is a cozy, how did the mystery rate? I would have to say that I was very impressed with Ms. Coyle's writing as well as how the mystery unfolded. I was most definitely kept guessing (although I admit that in books like this, I don't really try all that hard to figure things out.) There were most definitely some surprises along the way, and the action at the end was pretty fast-paced. Overall, I'd say that MURDER BY MOCHA is definitely at the high-end of cozy mystery books.
If you are like me and enjoy cozies (and especially ones that deal with food!), then I highly recommend giving MURDER BY MOCHA a shot! (Get it...a shot?)
Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this novel.
Mystery Mondays is a "somewhat" regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.