Sunday, July 3, 2016

REVIEW: On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle

On What Grounds
Author: Cleo Coyle

I am a die-hard cozy mystery fan. A cute theme, an endearing pet of some sort and a sprinkle of murder on top -- love it. The kitcsch-ier the better, as far as I am concerned. Perfect summer reading for me.

I also love coffee. My morning cuppa is my daily treat that gets my day started.

So, when I came across the Coffeehouse Mystery series by Cleo Coyle, I thought it would be a great blend of two of my favorite things.

I wasn't wrong.

However, this first book in the series did point out I am wrong about several things.

1. I store my coffee improperly.

2. I brew my coffee incorrectly.

3. And, I have never ever had a "proper'' espresso drink.

Which brings me to a great point about this book -- the author actually includes interesting information when it comes to the background theme -- coffee. There is a lot of information about coffee, brewing coffee and making coffee drinks in this book! It isn't just fluff added for ambiance.....there's great factual information (and recipes included as well).

So let's cut to the chase -- the plot. Clare Cosi has returned to New York and the job she held for 10 years, managing Village Blend, an upscale coffeehouse. The Village Blend has been in business for 100 years, but the last manager almost ran it into the ground. Clare moves back to Manhattan to repair the damage, at the request of the owner (who also happens to be her ex-mother in law).

But, just as all of her belongings have been moved into the apartment above the shop and she is settling back into her old job, Clare comes to work to discover her assistant manager unconscious at the foot of the basement stairs. The police believe it was a freak accident, but Clare knows foul play was involved.

Clare is soon on the case, aided by a police detective and her ex-husband. If they can't prove their suspicions that someone pushed Annabelle down the steps, the Village Blend might face lawsuits from Annabelle's nasty step-mother.

All in all, I liked this book. The mystery was interesting and kept my attention. I enjoyed the factual information about coffee and how it should be properly prepared. I liked the characters for the most part, but as in most cozies, there really wasn't a lot of in-depth character development. It's a light mystery read....not a deep, involved thriller. So I'm ok with that.

The cover-art is eye-catching. Always a plus with me. Recipes included -- also a nice addition to a food/beverage themed cozy.

Cleo Coyle is the pen-name for Alice Alfonsi and her husband, Marc Cerasini. There are 14 books in the series so far, with the 15th scheduled for publication in September 2016. This author duo also writes under the name Alice Kimberly. As Kimberly, they wrote the Haunted Bookshop Mystery series. There were 5 books in that series and a sixth scheduled for publication, before the series was dropped. I remember being frustrated because I loved the series....but it just halted with no explanation. I would assume it was some sort of publisher/contract snafu.....which seems to be a common occurrence unfortunately. I will just have to enjoy the Coffeehouse Mystery series and continue to hope that the Haunted Bookshop will return at some point.

I will definitely be reading more of this series!! Now....I just need to find a coffee shop that makes a proper espresso!

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