Holiday Grind by Cleo Coyle

Holiday-GrindIt’s Christmas in the city and Clare Cosi is busy experimenting with new holiday-themed frothy drinks. From fa-la-la-la lattes to candy cane cappuccinos, the Christmas-infused coffees must be better than ever in order to boost sales.  But all the caffeine-induced yultide cheer comes to a roaring stop when the local Santa is found dead in the snow.

As usual the lazy city cops claim it’s nothing more than a random mugging, leaving Clare with no other choice but to strap on her gumshoes and ferret out the killer herself. With some help from her hilariously sardonic barista, Esther, she traces Alf’s (aka Santa) last steps and discovers quite a few shady characters on top of his naughty list.

Things get complicated when Alf’s daughter, who happens to be a former Village Blend barista, asks Clare to investigate a blackmail scheme. Was Alf peeking inside an apartment building before the sniper took him out? And was he willing to commit extortion just to keep his failed restaurant afloat?  Seems like this Santa wasn’t all cookies and milk after all.

On top of solving her friend’s murder and keeping her own restaurant in the black, Clare is dealing with some serious man drama between her sexually frustrated ex-hubby and commitment-phobe boyfriend.  The ex is clearly hung up on her, but can she really get back together with the man who left her broke and heartbroken? He’s clearly unhappy with his socialite girlfriend and it’s only a matter of time until they both have a moment of weakness. As for the sexy NYPD boyfriend, he needs to stop putting his job in front of his lady – especially during the holidays. And what’s the deal with him hanging out with that mean red-haired supermodel?

Mmm...doesn't a peppermint mocha sound good right about now?

Mmm…doesn’t a peppermint mocha sound good right about now?

Clearly Clare has some investigating to do. And she better solve the mystery soon – before her own good is cooked! As she moves in on the killer, crazy things happen. Let me tell ya, there was one jaw-dropping moment that had me glued to the pages until the very end! I won’t give away any spoilers, but I will say that if I ever take a ride on a ferry in the icy Atlantic Ocean, I’m steering clear of the rails.

 Overall, this book is the perfect cozy holiday read. The author does a fine job gradually introducing readers to the eclectic mix of characters and Clare’s backstory. Her love for New York City really shines in her lyrical descriptions of the snow-covered cityscape and iconic landmarks. Although I’ve never been to New York, I can imagine the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers and the ice skating at Rockefeller Park. Since I loathe crowds and city transportation, I doubt I’ll ever experience Christmas in New York, but it’s fun imagining myself catching snowflakes in Central Park and sipping frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity.

Needless to say, I’m a fan of Cleo Coyle’s fun little coffeehouse mystery series. She can weave a tightly-plotted whodunit without skimping on the romance and cozy coffeeshop ambiance. If you’re in the mood for a holiday thriller, give this one a shot. I’m now on to her Haunted Bookshop mysteries, which should be a lot of good, cozy fun!

Friday Finds: Holiday Edition

i found you!It’s probably a tad bit selfish to treat myself to goodies during the season of giving, but I just couldn’t fight the gravitational pull toward the mall bookstore. All the new titles with glossy red and green covers were too hard to resist!

Although I didn’t make much progress on the holiday shopping list, I did procure a nice little bundle of Christmassy reads!  Thanks to MizB at Should Be Reading, I get to brag about my latest literary shopping spree in this Friday Finds post.

Which one shall I read first?

 Holiday Grind: A Coffeehouse Mystery, Book 8

6296907Clare’s grown very fond of Alfred Glockner, the part-time comic and genuinely jolly charity Santa who’s been using her coffeehouse as a place to warm his mittens. When she finds him gunned down in a nearby alley, a few subtle clues convince her that Alfred’s death was something more than the tragic result of a random mugging, despite the conclusions of the police. More…

Silent Night: A Lady Julia Christmas Novella

16152023After a year of marriage – and numerous adventures – Lady Julia and Brisbane hope for a quiet, intimate Christmas together – until they find themselves at her father’s ancestral estate, Bellmont Abbey, with her eccentric family and a menagerie of animals. Nevertheless, Julia looks forward to a lively family gathering – but amongst the celebrations, a mystery stirs.  More…

 A Countess by Christmas

9427063The Earl of Bridgemere is happy to encourage his reputation as a curmudgeonly recluse if it repels the grasping females who usually attend his lavish Christmas parties. Helen Forrest is like a breath of fresh air, uninterested in his wealth and not cowed by his temper.  Bridgemere’s seasonal duty suddenly becomes a pleasure as he sets about making Helen his countess—by Christmas! More…

 A Wreath of Snow: A Victorian Christmas Novella

118219558940165422_sykPUxdi_cAll Margaret Campbell wants for Christmas is a safe journey home. When her plans for a festive holiday with her family in Stirling crumble beneath the weight of her brother’s bitterness, the young schoolteacher wants nothing more than to return to the students she loves and the town house she calls home.  Then an unexpected detour places her in the path of Gordon Shaw, a handsome newspaperman from Glasgow, who struggles under a burden of remorse and shame. More…

Friday Finds is a weekly meme spotlighting books you’ve bought or hope to buy in the future. Hop over to Should Be Reading for more details.

Waiting on Wednesday Pick: Murder by Mocha

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted over at Breaking The Spine, that spotlights exciting  upcoming releases. This week I’m waiting on Murder by Mocha by Cleo Coyle. It is the 10th book in the Coffeehouse Mystery series, and it just looks fabulous!

Publication date: Aug. 2, 2011. Just one day before my birthday!

From Goodreads.com:

A divorced, single mom in her forties, Clare Cosi is a coffee shop manager by day, an irrepressible snoop by night. When something is wrong, she considers it her mission in life to right it–and murder is as wrong as it gets.

Can coffee enhance your love life? Coffee and chocolate have long been considered aphrodisiacs. Now Clare’s Village Blend beans are being used in conjunction with a proprietary formula of exotic herbs to create a lucrative new product, Mocha Magic Coffee, billed as “a miracle brew” that will put the “magic moments” back into your relationship. Clare even plans to test this very special chocolate coffee on her boyfriend, NYPD detective Mike Quinn–when he’s off duty, of course.

The product was developed by an old friend of the Village Blend’s flamboyant, elderly owner, Madame Dreyfus Allegro Dubois. Madame’s friend is also the food and beverage editor of Aphrodite’s Village, one of the web’s most popular communities for women. This Internet site will be the exclusive place to buy Mocha Magic, which is expected to rake in millions, but not all goes well with the rollout of this product. At the launch party, the Mocha has far too many people acting loco! Then one of the website’s editors is found dead. When more of the website’s Sisters of Aphrodite start to die, Clare is convinced someone wants control of the coffee’s secret formula and is willing to kill to get it. Can Clare stir up some evidence against a bitter killer? Or will she be next on the hit list?