Coffeeshop manager and amateur detective Clare Cosi is again drinking lots of coffee and solving murders in French Pressed by Cleo Coyle, the sixth installment of Coyle’s Coffeehouse Mystery series.
The title of the book, French Pressed, is a reference to the French press coffee maker, made by Bodum and others. The French press makes a superb cup of coffee and is the top choice of many coffee lovers.
Early in French Pressed, when Clare wants to make a good strong cup of coffee for her boyfriend, NYPD detective Mike Quinn, she uses a French press to brew him a cup of her Morning Sunshine blend. It’s the strongly caffeinated wake-up blend that she serves in her Greenwich Village coffeehouse, the Village Blend.
Although no one in French Pressed is actually murdered with a French press, the action of the story centers on Solange, the popular upscale French restaurant in New York where Clare’s daughter Joy is working as an intern during her last year of culinary school.
Not only has Joy been learning her way around the kitchen, she’s also become involved in an intimate relationship with her older, married boss and mentor, Chef Tommy Keitel. Clare is upset, but she recognizes that Joy is old enough to make her own decisions.
But when Solange’s kitchen turns violent and Joy is in danger, Clare decides to step in. Having been served a dreadful cup of coffee when she dined at Solange, Clare makes a pitch to provide the coffee service at Solange so that she can be nearer to Joy.
Clare arranges a meeting with Solange’s maître d’ Napoleon Dormier. She sets up five French presses with five of the Village Blend’s best coffees for Dormier to taste. Trying the first coffee, Kenyan SL-28, Dormier is suitably impressed—and Clare is impressed with his tasting expertise. He correctly identifies the dominant flavor of the coffee as black currant, with notes of raspberry and lemon. Dormier compares the coffee to a Grand Cru, the top classification of wine from Burgundy.
Clare serves more coffees to Dormier, Chef Keitel, and Pastry Chef Janelle Babcock, culminating with the lavender and plum Honduran “Purple Princess” from Counter Culture Coffee. Clare’s French pressed coffee tastings do the job, as Keitel offers Clare a contract to supply Solange’s coffee service.
But before Clare has a chance to begin her work at Solange, more violence in the kitchen changes everything. Joy becomes the NYPD’s prime suspect, and Clare has to use all of her detecting skills—and Lieutenant Mike Quinn’s as well—to clear her daughter’s name.
French Pressed is an entertaining mystery, featuring most of the characters, including Clare’s ex-husband Matteo Allegro and her very colorful ex-mother-in-law Madame Blanche Dreyfus Allegro Dubois, that have made the Coffeehouse Mystery series so popular.
Clare’s investigation takes her into some new parts of New York City, including Washington Heights and Brighton Beach, which Coyle describes with her usual eye for detail. And as always, the book also features some recipes from Clare’s kitchen and the Village Blend. French Pressed is a solid entry in the Coffeehouse Mystery series and a good read for any mystery fan or coffee lover.
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