Coffeehouse Mystery Books
On What Grounds
"The perfect cup of coffee is a mystifying thing. To many of my customers, the entire process seems like some sort of alchemy they dare not try at home...."
Ten years ago, Clare Cosi left an unhappy marriage along with a job she loved: managing the historic Village Blend coffeehouse in New York’s Greenwich Village. For a decade, she was happy raising her daughter in the quiet suburbs of New Jersey; but now that Joy is grown and gone, life has gotten way too quiet for Clare.
With a little cajoling from Madame, the Blend’s flamboyant, elderly owner (not to mention a persuasive pot of Jamaica Blue Mountain), Clare agrees to return to her old job—and right from the start she gets one heck of a jolt.
On her first morning back as Village Blend manager, Clare unlocks the front door to find her beautiful, young assistant manager, Anabelle Hart, unconscious in the back of the store, coffee grounds strewn everywhere.
As Anabelle is rushed to the hospital, police arrive to investigate, but Detective Mike Quinn finds no sign of forced entry or foul play, and he deems it an accident. Clare disagrees; and after Quinn leaves, there are a few questions she just can’t get out of her mind, like why was the trash bin in the wrong place? If this wasn’t an accident, are her other baristas in danger? And are all NYPD detectives this attractive?
Through the Grinder
"She had to die. The Genius knew this and was absolutely fine with it. The problem, of course, was how...."
Clare’s new life in the city is percolating right along, with her grown daughter, Joy, close by in culinary school; and her ex-husband, Matt, working even closer as the Blend’s coffee buyer. Even better, their newest loyal customer is Mike Quinn, the attractive NYPD detective who helped Clare solve the murder of assistant manager Anabelle.
Turns out Detective Quinn likes Clare’s lattes as much as hearing her opinions about his current cases, including his latest one: a suicide. Or was it? Soon after stopping at the Village Blend coffeehouse, a regular customer jumps to her death in the subway. Or was she pushed?
Detective Quinn is convinced that someone has an axe to grind, especially after the “suicide” of a second female customer. Unfortunately, his prime suspect is Bruce Bowman, the new man in Clare’s life. Bruce is the perfect blend of rugged good looks and potent personality. Too bad the women in his life keep turning up dead. Now Clare will have to risk her heart—and her life—to follow the killer’s trail to the bitter end.
" 'Men are pigs. They should die!' Tucker Burton's words were audible over the steam wand's hiss...It wasn't that I disagreed with Tucker about men. When they acted like pigs, I wanted blood too, so to speak...."
The barista meets the fashionista! For years, fashion designer Lottie Harmon was the toast of New York’s fashion industry until something happened that made her close up shop and leave the city. Now she’s back, making a splash with an ingenious new collection of coffee-inspired accessories. Because Lottie was always a loyal customer of the Village Blend, she chooses Clare’s coffeehouse as the stage for fall Fashion Week insiders to view her new line of “Java Jewelry.” During the launch party, however, Blend barista Tucker Burton unwittingly serves a poisoned latte to one of Lottie’s guests. Chaos ensues as paramedics rush in, and the police arrest Tucker.
Clare is certain her barista is innocent, and she suspects the real target may have been Lottie herself. Now Clare must protect her thriving business from negative publicity, Lottie from any further danger, and Tucker from murder charges—even if it means jolting the fashion world with some shocking secrets.
Murder Most Frothy
"Hours before I found the body, one of Detective Mike Quinn's pithy comments came back to haunt me: 'You know, Clare, it's a little known principle of physics that a great deal of money can create a completely separate universe....'"
Clare Cosi's new friend, millionaire entrepreneur David Mintzer, makes her an offer no New York barista could turn down: an all-expense-paid summer away form the sticky city.
At David’s oceanfront mansion, Clare plans to relax, soak up the sun, and (oh, yes) train the staff at David’s new East Hampton restaurant, Cuppa J, in the high rituals of proper coffee service. Packing up her daughter, her former mother-in-law, and her special recipe for frothy coffee frappes, Clare expects to have a de-latte-ful summer. But her carefree vacation grinds to a halt when an employee turns up dead in David’s bathroom.
Because of the Fourth of July fireworks, no one heard any gunshots. That doesn’t worry Clare. She’s just starting to investigate, and the disturbing facts she uncovers are going to keep her up at night—even without caffeine.
"In 1862 New York instituted its first gun control law, banning rifles to discourage hunting within the city limits. Nearly one hundred and fifty years later, at least one hunter failed to be discouraged...."
At the Village Blend, Clare Cosi’s best baristas may refer to a decaffeinated espresso as a “why bother?”, but Clare knows a good percentage of her customers prefer the neutered brew. So when Ric Gostwick, a charismatically handsome Brazilian, develops the world’s first botanically decaffeinated coffee plant, Clare can see why Matt (her ex-husband and business partner) gets into bed with the deal.
Unfortunately, Ric is also getting into bed with more than one woman. And when an attempted murder happens right outside the Blend’s back door, Clare suspects more than Ric’s revolutionary new plant has its roots in some dirt.
As she begins to investigate Ric’s background and business connections, a trail of clues leads to a pile up of casualties and an international roster of suspects. Now Clare knows she’s got to find the murderer before one of her near and dears takes a fall. Otherwise, her latest addition to the Village Blend menu will prove to be a real buzz killer.
“'Ugh,' I murmured. 'This coffee is absolute poison...'
No, the lukewarm ebony liquid sloshing around my bone china cup wasn’t actually lethal, just bitter, old, and lifeless—the kind of adjectives I would have been mortified to hear uttered about my coffee, God forbid my person..."
Clare Cosi's daughter, Joy—a girl who doesn't always make the *best* decisions—is finishing up her culinary studies with an internship at Solange, one of New York City's hottest French restaurants. She's also getting way too intimate with her boss, the older, married Executive Chef Tommy Keitel.
Clare's not buzzed about the relationship (to put it mildly), but what twenty-something takes romantic advice from her mother? Resolving to keep a closer eye on Joy, Clare makes a deal to micro-roast and French press exclusive coffee blends for Tommy, a man she wouldn't mind seeing roasted and pressed himself! Then the competitive kitchen turns cutthroat, and the NYPD marks Joy as a murder suspect. To clear her daughter of the crime, Clare knows she must catch the real killer...even if it lands her in the hottest water of her life.
SEPTEMBER 30, 2008...
Coffeehouse Mystery #7