Manager Clare Cosi’s day started with the typical morning rush of regulars picking up their usual orders at the Village Blend coffeehouse. Later that morning, she and Madame, the owner of the coffee house and mother of her ex-husband, Matt, drove to Queens for a visit with a long time friend and fellow coffee café owner.
Before they could finish their business, a bomb went off in the building! Fortunately, the three were rescued by local firefighters from the FDNY including the obnoxious Captain Michael Quinn, first cousin of Clare’s Mike Quinn.
After Clare recovered from the blast, she visited the fire house to teach some of the firefighters how to operate their recently donated espresso machine as a way of saying thanks for their help.
When more cafes around the area are torched and the firefighters are put in harms way, Clare decided to find out who was behind the tragedies as authorities didn’t seem to believe the fires were related.
She welcomed the opportunity to do some sleuthing when she donated items from the Village Blend for the FDNY’s Five-Borough Bake Sale headed by Valerie Noonan, the wife of the firefighter who was instrumental in rescuing Clare and her friends.
When firefighters began to die under suspicious circumstances, it looked like a couple of FDNY’s bravest might be involved. Her own Mike Quinn became involved in a case in which he was fighting false accusations and was not able to offer the help or protection she needed, so she recruited ex-husband Matt to help her track down those responsible for setting the coffeehouse fires. Some of the best scenes in Roast Mortem involve the relationship between the two exes’.
Roast Mortem, a Coffeehouse Mystery, was written by Cleo Coyle, a pen name for the husband and wife duo who also write the popular Haunted Bookshop Mysteries as Alice Kimberly. In their typical fashion, they keep readers on their toes throughout the book.
Although the usual cast of barista’s is in and out of the story providing continuity to the series, new characters are a welcome addition as well. Humor laced throughout keeps the story from getting too heavy although there is a serious side to this particular novel.
The writing is crisp and clean, the pace keeps readers interested and entertained, and the clues and red herrings give the chair side sleuth an opportunity to figure out who is behind the bombings and their motive for the destruction.
The boroughs of New York provide a vivid backdrop to the story and the detailed descriptions of the neighborhoods give a feeling of reality to the bombings and fires and how they affect the lives of those who live or visit the neighborhoods. There is almost a street view feel to the novel, as if the reader is getting a vivid glimpse of the storefronts and the people who inhabit the area.
This particular book dwells heavily on the FDNY and firefighters in general, and their dedication and commitment to saving lives and keeping neighborhoods safe even as their own lives are placed at risk.
As usual, the authors and Clare provide plenty of information regarding the fine art of coffee brewing throughout the book, and include a primer on coffee roasting plus numerous recipes and tips from the Village Blend at the end.
A special thank you goes to Cleo Coyle and Berkley Prime Time for sending a complimentary copy of Roast Mortem for our review. If you would like to purchase your own copy, the book is available at Amazon.com.