Hopped-Up Fashion Fatale

Latte Trouble by Cleo Coyle

While recovering from my wisdom tooth extraction surgery I have been happily entertained by the third installment of Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse Mystery series, Latte Trouble.  The general manager and part owner of the history Village Blend, Clare Cosi, finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery intertwining her own coffeehouse with the world of fashion at Bryant Park’s Fall Fashion Week.  The mystery kicks off after one of Clare’s baristas serves up a lethal latte to a patron at jewelry designer Lottie Harmon’s pre-rollout party held at the Blend.  The barista is hauled off to Rikers Island as a suspect in the murder and thus Clare is motivated to find the culprit.

I’m not sure exactly what this says about the mystery, but Cleo Coyle drops enough hints about the killer that I was able to guess the identity pretty early on.  There were, however, enough red herrings to keep me noncommital until the very end.  And even though I had a pretty good idea of who the murderer was, I was never sure of why until the clever conclusion.

Thought he plot and characters make great reading, the best part about this mystery series is the coffee culture it imbues.  Any time Clare is at her shop the reader is sure to be treated with a morsel of coffee knowledge, a helpful tip or a mouth-watering recipe.  Once the mystery is solved it is a treat to know that an appendix chock-full of such information awaits.

As other Cleo Coyle fans have mentioned, mystery #3 of the series is fundamentally different to mysteries #1 and #2 in more than a few ways, leading the reader to believe that one half of the husband and wife writing team was likely more involved than the other.  For instance, the Clare/Matt relationship is vastly different.  In fact, the two end up sleeping together, which seems at odds with the Clare persona we meet in the first two mysteries.  Matt is also less concerned with Clare’s “Nancy Drew” inclinations, contradicting the enthusiasm he radiates in book #3’s predecessors.  In the end, though, none of this is really concerning.  Latte Trouble is a fun read that has made great Saturday company for someone recovering from oral surgery!

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