Amateur detective Clare Cosi gets another chance to employ her sleuthing skills in Decaffeinated Corpse by Cleo Coyle, the fifth book in the author’s popular Coffeehouse Mystery series.
The mystery begins when Clare discovers a body in the alley behind the Village Blend, the venerable coffeehouse that she manages in New York City’s Greenwich Village. It’s not a dead body, though. The corpse of the title will arrive later.
The man lying unconscious in the alley is Brazilian coffee grower Ric Gostwick, an old friend of Clare’s ex-husband and business partner Matt Allegro. Ric had been on his way to the Village Blend to meet with Matt, Clare, and their baristas for a coffee tasting. Ric has developed a botanically decaffeinated coffee plant, with a taste superior to any processed decaf. The Village Blend staff were going to get their first taste before the new coffee was unveiled.
Despite the universal aversion to decaffeinated coffee among baristas and coffee enthusiasts, Matt and Clare recognize that a superior decaf will be a hit among a growing segment of coffee drinkers. Matt’s deal with Ric for the Blend to be the exclusive retailer of Ric’s naturally decaffeinated coffee has great business potential.
But Clare is suspicious when Ric refuses to let her call the police to report the attack in the alley. Although Ric claims the attack was a random mugging and insists he is fine, Clare suspects that Ric is not telling the whole story. She is convinced that the attack on Ric is connected to the imminent launch of his revolutionary decaf coffee.
Clare, of course, must investigate. What she learns is not good. Ric has skirted some federal laws and regulations by smuggling a seedling of his decaffeinated coffee shrub into the United States. Even worse, Matt helped him. He may be in trouble along with Ric. Additional shady dealings and coffee trade treachery come to light, and the sense of impending danger increases.
Despite Clare’s best efforts, ultimately there is, as the book’s title promises, a corpse. Coffee, even decaf, can kill you.
In addition to the mystery, Decaffeinated Corpse by Cleo Coyle features the trademark romance and humor of the Coffeehouse Mystery series. Clare’s budding romance with NYPD Detective Mike Quinn continues to blossom. Matt still appears to harbor hopes of getting back together with Clare, even as he is seeing someone else. And Clare’s irrepressible mother-in-law, Madame Blanche Dreyfus Allegro Dubois, once again gets involved in the sleuthing with Clare.
The book also provides some recipes for coffee drinks and other treats mentioned in the story. The recipes at the end of Decaffeinated Corpse include homemade coffee syrup for use in making coffee milk (the official state drink of Rhode Island), Italian sesame cookies, and cappuccino muffins. They all sound good, don’t they?
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