Mocha Magic Coffee is about to become the hot new product featured on Aphrodite’s Village, a popular online community for women. “Hot” in more ways than one: the mix of coffee, chocolate, and herbs is guaranteed to improve your love life.
But as the international product launch for Mocha Magic Coffee approaches, trouble is brewing. And it’s up to Clare Cosi, manager of the Village Blend coffee shop and amateur sleuth, to sort it out. If you’ve read any of the previous books in Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse Mystery series (this is book #10), you know she is up to the task.
Clare is involved with the Mocha Magic launch courtesy of her employer and former mother-in-law, “Madame” Blanche Dreyfus Allegro Dubois. As the owner of the Village Blend, Madame signed a contract with an old friend, Alicia Bower, to provide the coffee beans for Mocha Magic Coffee. Clare and her barista staff are also managing the samples table at the launch party.
Clare has been worrying that the Village Blend’s reputation for quality coffee will be ruined if the Mocha Magic Coffee doesn’t live up to its hype. But on the morning of the launch party, Clare’s worry about her coffee shop’s reputation takes a back seat to a matter of life and death. Responding to an urgent call from Madame, Clare finds that Alicia Bower has awakened next to a man’s dead body in her hotel bed. Alicia is distraught and says she doesn’t remember anything.
The mystery takes a strange turn when the corpse disappears before the police arrive. But Clare is convinced that the incident is somehow related to the Mocha Magic launch. Was someone trying to prevent the launch by framing Alicia for murder?
The launch party, at Rockefeller Center’s posh Loft & Garden, draws a large turnout, and Mocha Magic Coffee appears to be headed for success. But the party ends tragically when one of the Aphrodite’s Village editors is found murdered. And this time, the body doesn’t disappear.
Alicia Bower is the primary suspect, but Clare soon learns that in the fiercely competitive world of Aphrodite’s Village, there are numerous people who may have a motive to kill.
Murder by Mocha is a rich brew of a mystery story. There are many twists and turns along the way as Clare tries to find the killer, and author Cleo Coyle successfully keeps readers guessing until the very end.
The book features most of the regular cast of characters that readers have come to enjoy throughout the series. The indomitable Madame plays a strong supporting role as she helps Clare with her investigation. Clare’s handsome ex-husband Matteo Allegro also lends a hand. Most of the baristas from the Village Blend make appearances — Tucker Burton, Esther Best, Dante Silva — along with Nancy “Holy Smokin’ Rockets” Kelly, who is new not only to the Blend but to New York City.
New York’s Finest are also on the scene. Clare’s romance with Lieutenant Mike Quinn continues to heat up. Sergeant Emmanuel Franco, who works for Mike and is involved with Clare’s daughter Joy, gives Clare some crucial help with her investigation. And the Fish Squad (read the book) is there for backup.
Murder by Mocha is infused with coffee lore, adding interest to these books for coffee lovers. There are maybe fewer coffee “how-to’s” than in some of the other books, but pots of coffee continue to be brewed and espresso shots continue to be pulled at every opportunity. Clare Cosi just thinks coffee: when she has to leave Mike, she complains that it “felt about as right as pouring a fresh-pressed pot of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe down the drain.”
This tenth Coffeehouse Mystery is one of the most enjoyable and satisfying books in the series. It also includes more than 30 pages of recipes for many of the delicious treats mentioned in the story. So get cozy with Murder by Mocha, a cup of “Madame’s European-Style Hot Chocolate,” and a slice of “Clare Cosi’s Moist Mocha Cake with Shiny Chocolate Guinness Glaze.” You won’t be disappointed.
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