For the last little while, I have been absolutely OBSESSED with mystery books, particularly those considered "cozy" mysteries. I figured since most people only review the first book in a series, I would review the first 5 of this new favourite of mine. On one of my trips to the library, I came across a book entitled "On What Grounds" by Cleo Coyle. I picked it up, was loving the cover art, and read the back. Amazing. It sounded absolutely amazing. I have now read the first 5 books in the series, which probably tells you that I enjoy them. Although, that would be an understatement because I LOVE them!
On What Grounds - Book 1
The first book in the series introduces the reader to all the main players. Claire is the manager of the Village Blend, a coffeehouse in Greenwich Village in good old New York City. Because of this, the reader gets all kinds of information about how to properly grind coffee and make latte's, etc. I am personally not a coffee drinker, but it does not matter. I love the little rants she goes off on about how people don't do things the "proper way". In this story, Claire finds the body of one of her workers at the bottom of the basement stairs in the coffeehouse. Determined to find out what has happened to one of her staff, she does not leave the job to the police, but decides to do some of her own detective work.
I absolutely fell in love with the characters in this book and the relationships they have. I love witty, sarcastic, quick-thinking conversation and that is how Coyle writes. I love the setting, the process of the detective work, and it is not straight-forward as to who the killer is.
Through the Grinder - Book 2
In the second book, females who frequent the Village Blend or who are a part of Claire's life start dying. They are considered to be suicides, but Claire is not convinced. She realizes they are all connected and is determined to prove that these women are not killing themselves. When her daughter becomes an intended victim, Claire goes into protective mode and works even harder to find out who is behind these murders.
I loved the second book as much as the first. The nice thing about these stories is they do not take place back to back, making them seem a bit more realistic. There are usually a few months at least between the books and in each one you get to know Claire, Madame, Matteo, Joy, and Mike more than the last.
Latte Trouble - Book 3
The third installment of the Coffeehouse Mystery series is once again close to home for Claire. While holding an event during Fashion Week at the Blend, two men are poisoned, one of them dying in the coffeehouse. One of Claire's baristas is arrested for the murder and hauled off to jail. Although Matteo does not believe in Tucker's innocence, Claire knows he would not have tried to kill anyone and sets off on what Matteo calls her "Nancy Drew" train. Things between Matteo and Claire have started to shift a bit and it makes you wonder if they will one day reunite.
Oh how I love Tucker! He is so funny and vibrant, but we see a whole other side of him after he has been arrested and thrown into jail. Coyle certainly writes in a way in which you cannot help but feel extreme sympathy for the poor guy and your heart reaches out to him. I was actually able to figure out a bit before it was revealed who the killer was. But just because I knew who, did not mean I knew why the murder had taken place. Read it to find out!
Murder Most Frothy - Book 4
This book takes us to the Hamptons. That right there tells you it will be full of crazy people, lots of booze and parties, and downright ridiculousness. Claire is helping a friend with the coffee portion of his new restaurant, and is spending the summer in the Hamptons. A murder takes places at the house of the restaurant owner and one of Claire's staff is killed. She does not believe he was the intended target, but rather that her friend was the one the killer meant to shoot and thought he/she shot. Claire is on the case and this time brings Madame into it with her, making Matteo angry.
This book is, like I said, full of ridiculousness. Haha. But in a good way! When I think of the Hamptons, I shake my head and that's what this book makes me do. The characters made me laugh, it is unclear who is behind the mess of things that is going on, and you wonder if this will be the book in which Claire finds herself in a situation she will not recover from (considering some of the things that have happened to her in the past.)
Decaffeinated Corpse - Book 5
I just finished this book about an hour ago and it did not disappoint. In his travels, Matteo came across something that most buyers/sellers in the coffee world would kill for: naturally decaffeinated coffee beans. The Village Blend has exclusive rights to the sale of the coffee, but everything needs to remain hush hush until the launch at the Beekman Hotel. Before that, though, an attempt to murder the grower has been made and neither Ric (the grower) or Matteo will fill Claire in on what is going on. They do not want to involve the police, so she starts digging herself. Before the end, people will die, Matteo and Claire may find themselves involved in a case of fraud, and Matteo will be taken away by the cops.
This story did not disappoint, as I'm not sure Coyle is capable of disappointment. We start to see a shift in some relationships (which made me jump up and down), and yet again, Madame is involved in solving the mystery. I love these characters more and more with every book and I hope you will try them and let me know what you think! If you are a fan of cozy mystery you will definitely like these because, let's face it, just because you have published a book does not mean you can write. Cleo Coyle can write! She is good at conversation, she is good at character development, and of course, with all aspects of the mystery and solving it. Give it a try and let me know! Maybe you will find yourself to be a Coffeehouse Mystery lover too!