In Murder Most Frothy by Cleo Coyle, the fourth installment in the best-selling Coffeehouse Mystery series, barista Clare Cosi takes a summer break from her beloved Village Blend coffeehouse in New York City. Clare has accepted an invitation from her multi-millionaire friend David Mintzer to train the barista staff at Cuppa J, his new restaurant in the Hamptons.
Clare has also been invited to stay, along with her daughter Joy and her ex-mother-in-law “Madame” Blanche Dubois, at David’s beachfront East Hampton mansion.
As the story opens, Clare is making some of her trademark Iced ChocoLattes and other summer coffee drinks for the guests at David’s lavish Fourth of July party. The highlight of the party is a spectacular fireworks show over the water. After the guests have departed, Clare learns that David had a migraine during the party and went upstairs to lie down. When she goes to check on him, she discovers a dead body with a gunshot wound in David’s private bathroom.
Although the murder victim is one of David’s employees, Clare is convinced that the real target was David himself. Impatient for the police to arrive, Clare begins to investigate on her own. She discovers evidence that bolsters her theory, but the police do not share her view that the murderer was aiming for David. Nor does David himself.
David promises Clare that he will hire security guards until the murder has been solved. In return, Clare agrees that she’ll drop the idea that David is the target.
She doesn’t, of course. David is her friend, and it’s clear to her that he is in danger. Clare has solved several murders with links to the Village Blend, and she sees no reason why her detective skills would be less effective in the Hamptons than they’ve been in Greenwich Village. So she continues her investigation, uncovering multiple suspects with reasons to want David dead.
Murder Most Frothy is indeed a bit “frothier” than the previous Coffeehouse Mystery books. Clare is plying her barista trade at a hot new restaurant catering to the wealthy summer crowd in the Hamptons instead of the historic Village Blend coffeehouse in New York City. Beaches and surf replace gritty city streets and subways. And everyone from Madame on down is looking for a “summer fling.”
But murder in the Hamptons, of course, is just as deadly as murder anywhere else.
And Clare hasn’t left her coffee expertise behind either. Although she acknowledges that for an American, “barista is not the highly respected job title it is in, for example, Italy” (p. 7), nonetheless she is happy with her work:
“Even after my collegiate studies and successes as a culinary writer, I ultimately decided that making the perfect cup time after time for a person who might be tired, weary, thirsty, or down, was not an insignificant thing.” (p. 8)
For Clare, a cup of coffee or espresso is perfect for any occasion. Need a morning jolt? Have a cup of the Village Blend’s high-caffeine Breakfast Blend. Need to put a suspect at ease? Make him a fresh cup of espresso. Need to bend the law a little to catch a murderer? Well, that may take a few extra cups.
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