Joyce Lagow's Reviews > French Pressed

French Pressed by Cleo Coyle
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's review
Mar 19, 2011

really liked it

Sixth in the Coffeehouse Mystery series.

Clare’s 21 year old daughter Joy is serving her internship year in culinary school at the upscale French restaurant, Solange. To her mother’s intense distress, Joy is also having an affair with the 50-something executive chef of the restaurant, Tommy Keitel. But when Joy discovers the body of her best friend in culinary school, clearly murdered, and then becomes the chief suspect in another murder, Clare and Matt step in to catch the real murderer and get their beloved daughter cleared of charges.

Besides being a coffee fanatic, Coyle is a foodie and this installment allows her to showcase her knowledge of the high-end restaurant business in New York. The behind-the-scenes of food prep and management in such establishments are fascinating; the necessity of always presenting something new and fresh to attract jaded New Yorkers is a survival skill.

The plot is good but the people are better. The irrepressible Madame Dubois (may I be half as adventurous at 79 as she is), Joy, Matt, and the Blend’s baristas are by now well-established with distinct voices and characters of their own. Esther comes out of the pack with her new boyfriend, Russian slam poet and rapper, BB Gun (more prosaically, Boris), a Russian emigré who lives in Brighton Beach. As usual, Coyle uses not just Manhattan and the Village as her background, but other boroughs and neighborhoods as well; Brighton Beach, as the home of Russian (and other) emigrés, is featured, along with a rather sugar-coated version of the Russian Mafia. Many of the one-off characters are extremely well-done, such as the various chefs in Solange; one, the pastry chef Janelle, will return in further books.

As usual, there are great recipes--Clare’s Corn Bread looks really good--and tips for coffee and coffee drinks in a lengthy appendix.

Highly recommended.

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