A Brew to a Kill
Publisher: Penguin Group
Line: Berkley Hardcover
Release Date: Aug 7, 2012
Retail Price: 25.95
Coffee. It can get a girl killed.
A shocking hit-and-run in front of her Village Blend coffeehouse spurs Clare Cosi into action. A divorced, single mom in her forties, Clare is also a dedicated sleuth, and she's determined to track down this ruthless driver who ran down an innocent friend and customer. In the meantime, her ex-husband Matt, the shop's globetrotting coffee buyer, sources some amazing new beans from Brazil. But he soon discovers that he's importing more than coffee, and Clare may have been the real target of that deadly driver. Can ex-husband and wife work together to solve this mystery--or will their newest brew lead to murder? Includes recipes.
Series: Coffee House Mystery
For fans of: Diane Mott Davidson, Laura Childs' Tea Shop Mysteries
Village Blend manager Clare Cosi is determined to keep her beloved Greenwich Village coffeehouse operating in the black, and she's convinced the best way to do that is to expand her customer base with a food truck. The Blend's truck (dubbed the Muffin Muse) will not only serve their signature coffee drinks, but will also offer healthy and delicious baked goods prepared by Clare's good friend Lilly Beth Tanga. Everything's proceeding according to plan, and the truck is actually receiving a fair amount of positive press – until Lilly Beth is run down and nearly killed on the street outside the Blend. Witnesses all say the hit-and-run was no accident – that the driver took careful aim at Lilly Beth and then actually accelerated into her. But who would want to hurt the young single mother, and why?
Then, to make matters worse, Clare discovers the Blend's most recent shipment of coffee beans contains at least as much Brazilian crack cocaine as it does coffee. Clare’s vowed to do everything in her power to help the police catch her friend’s assailant, but she won’t be of use to anyone if the DEA hauls her off to prison. Clare’s solved a lot of crimes in her day, but this time around, even she’s forced to admit that she may have a bit more on her plate than she can handle...
A Brew to a Kill is the eleventh installment in Cleo Coyle's Coffeehouse Mystery series, and on the balance, it’s an enjoyable and entertaining read. While a few of Coyle’s characters are a bit cartoonish (Village Blend baristas Nancy and Esther and Kupkake Kween Kaylie Crimini, I’m looking in your direction), the key players in A Brew to a Kill are remarkably well developed. As always, Clare makes for a likable and engaging heroine, and her rather complicated relationships with her boyfriend, Detective Mike Quinn, and her ex-husband and business partner, Matteo Allegro, are realistic and nuanced and grow more compelling with each and every book. Mike and Matteo are fantastic characters in their own rights, and I particularly enjoyed watching their dynamic change over the course of this story. Detective Max Buckman is at once sweet and funny and brusque and prickly and adds both humor and heart to Coyle’s tale. Madame Allegro is witty, wise, elegant, and charming (as per her usual). And Detective Emmanuel Franco continues to evolve from a character I once called “patently ridiculous” into a winsome and amusing series regular.
Coyle’s dialogue is sharp and witty, and every single line both rings true and carries with it the essence of the character doing the speaking. Her prose is occasionally a little too flowery for my taste, and this particular book contains too many digressions regarding the different neighborhoods of New York and their respective histories and cultures, but those complaints aside, Coyle successfully uses her words to paint vivid descriptions. She does an especially great job of bringing the Blend to life on the page, giving it an energy and warmth that’s almost palpable.
The plot is solid overall, but while the central mystery surrounding Lilly Beth’s accident is rather elegantly established, the solution left me wanting. Much more interesting (and satisfying) is the B-story involving Matteo’s accidental foray into drug smuggling and the ensuing aftermath; this storyline is nothing short of thrilling, and the ramifications of what transpires will doubtless be felt for books to come.
Reviewed by Kat N.
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