Susan's Reviews > Murder by Mocha

Murder by Mocha by Cleo Coyle
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Murder by Mocha is the tenth book in the Coffeehouse mystery series by the husband-and-wife writing team Cleo Coyle, set in current-day NYC. All the familiar characters are back: Clare Cosi, manager of The Village Blend, her NYPD detective boyfriend Mike Quinn, her ex-husband Matteo Allegro, her daughter Joy, her ex-mother-in-law and coffeehouse founder Madame, and the Blend's offbeat crew of baristas.

The story begins with the unlikely premise that Madame has contracted with an old friend to provide instant coffee from The Village Blend, to be combined with "herbs and spices" and marketed as Mocha Magic, an aphrodisiac. Instant coffee? No explanation is given how/why coffee purist Madame would affiliate The Blend with instant (her son Matteo also finds it unthinkable). Madame urgently summons Clare to a crisis- a dead man in her friend's hotel room. Clare hurries to the scene, alerts the police, and chases a fleeing suspect. The pursuit ends in a happy outcome for the police, but leaves Clare wondering who is out to get Madame's friend Alicia.

Village Blend caters the launch of Mocha Magic by Aphrodite's Village, a website for women. The top executive is a woman known only as Aphrodite. Her next level managers are referred to as "Sisters". Clare quickly learns the sisters are fiercely competitive. When a murder occurs at the launch, Clare has many suspects to consider. She also witnesses firsthand the effects of Mocha Magic, and together with Matteo fears for the coffeehouse's potential liability. Clare investigates Aphrodite's organization and each "Sister"'s background to unravel what turns out to be several mysteries. The in-fighting among "Sister"s is fairly tedious to follow. Suffice to say that Clare is in mortal danger more than once but the villains are all eventually identified.

This story uses a murderer's point of view occasionally, providing the reader with more knowledge than the protagonist, but since there are actually several villains, all is not revealed until the end.

Joy and her boyfriend Franco provide additional plot tension - Clare tries throughout the book to conceal the depth of their relationship from Matteo.

Clare prepares delicious-sounding chocolate treats periodically during the story, and recipes are provided at the end. Overall this was a pleasant superficial jaunt with familiar faces, but the whole Aphrodite's Village plot was unlikely and overdone. I'll continue the series, since it's been enjoyable, but wouldn't recommend this installment.
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