Sunday, July 15, 2007

Decaffeinated Corpse - Cleo Coyle

Decaffeinated Corpse
A Coffeehouse Mystery
Cleo Coyle
Berkley Prime Crime


Clare Cosi is content with her job of managing Village Blend, a landmark coffeehouse in Greenwich Village. Tonight, it will become the testing grounds for a new coffee. In coffeehouses, decaffeinated brews are referred to as “why bother,” but there’s still a healthy slice of clientele that ask for it. Clare’s ex-husband Matt believes he’s found the next big thing: a decaffeinated coffee that actually tastes like real coffee. The brew gets an enthusiastic thumbs-up from the assembled baristas, who want to know how it was done. The secret, as Matt explains is a new hybrid plant that actually grows beans without caffeine in them.

Matt and his partner Federico (Ric) are poised to make the big announcement at the International Coffee Growers Exhibition trade show, complete with press conference and samples. Of course, such a breakthrough will mean huge money; and that kind of money means a certain amount of danger. This becomes apparent when Clare finds Ric, unconscious, outside the Blend. He first claims it was a simple mugging, but refuses to inform the police. The only thing the “mugger” took was his hotel keycard. Eventually, Ric admits that, in order to sidestep all that pesky paperwork, he smuggled a cutting of the new plant into the US. As it turns out, there’s someone out there who’s willing to kill for the secret to a great cup of decaf.

The latest in a running series, newcomers will have no problems jumping in at this point. Clare is an amateur sleuth who generally plays it smart, even while following her investigative impulses. She clearly loves the Blend, and the art of making coffee drinks in general. I particularly enjoyed the bits of history about the Blend and its famous former customers. Ms. Coyle is even able to sneak in some of the history of coffee without making it sound like a lecture. It all flows smoothly with the story, which is a very solid and entertaining mystery.

Rating: 7 ½
July 2007
ISBN# 978-0-425-21638-5 (paperback)


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