by Lorie Lewis Ham
We are so thrilled to not only be reviewing the latest coffeehouse mystery by Cleo Coyle (Cleo Coyle is actually a pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini), Dead to the Last Drop, but we also have a fun guest post by Cleo Coyle that provides a behind the scenes look at the writing of the new book.
As if that weren’t enough, we have a special giveaway from Cleo Coyle-An autographed copy of the new hardcover edition of Dead To The Last Drop, five autographed glossy recipe cards, a “Gimme Coffee!” Latte Cup and Saucer (made in Italy), and a pound of premium “Billionaire’s Blend” coffee from One Good Woman Coffee and Tea Co., mentioned in the book’s acknowledgment as part of the background research for Cleo’s “one good woman”—amateur sleuth Clare Cosi. Details on how to enter at the end of this post!
Dead To the Last Drop by Cleo Coyle
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham
Dead to the Last Drop is the latest in Cleo Coyle’s coffeehouse mystery series featuring Clare Cosi, who manages the Village Blend Coffee Shop in New York. This series is a favorite of mine–every time I “walk” into the Village Blend through one of these books I can almost smell the coffee!
This book in the series is a bit different as it finds Clare in Washington DC overseeing the new Village Blend DC. This location not only has a coffeehouse, but also a Jazz Space on the second floor. The new place is fraught with difficulties, not the least of which is the temperamental chef hired by the owner, Clare’s ex mother-in-law Madame Allegro. On the plus side, thanks to Madame Allegro, she is living in style house sitting in a charming Georgetown mansion filled with history, and being in DC puts her close to her police detective boyfriend Mike Quinn who is currently on a special assignment there.
Business starts to pick up when the President’s daughter begins playing jazz at their club’s open mike night, and especially when she ends up agreeing to do a concert there. But of course things never run smoothly. First a State Department employee suspiciously collapses in the club, the chef accuses Clare of embezzling money from Village Blend DC, and later the president’s daughter goes missing. Soon Clare finds herself on the run with Mike, running from the police while they search for the truth so Clare doesn’t end up in jail for murder, or maybe even for kidnapping the President’s daughter.
I wasn’t certain how I would feel about the DC setting of this book because I love the Village Blend in New York so much. However, I was pleasantly surprised and found myself feeling equally at home at the new coffeehouse. Coyle’s characters are wonderful, and her writing is excellent. This story was filled with political secrets, love, murder, some interesting DC history, and a ton of twists and turns I never saw coming. I always enjoy the coffee info peppered throughout the book, and find I learn something new every time. There are also some great recipes at the back of the book I can’t wait to try out, along with some interesting coffee related presidential history.
If you love a great mystery, great characters, an interesting plot, and great coffee, this book is for you! I can’t wait for the next one. These books are always on the top of my list of favorite books for the year!
On the Run in Washington with Coffeehouse Mystery Author Cleo Coyle
Marc and I are a married couple who have been writing together for over a decade. We’ve penned fiction, non-fiction, media tie-ins, young adult, and children’s books. A few years ago, Marc worked on a series with the late Tom Clancy. Then we collaborated on a thriller tie-in for the producers of the Emmy-Award-winning television show 24. To date, that project was one of our all-time favorites.
In our newest Coffeehouse Mystery, we decided to go back to that ticking clock mindset and meld aspects of the thriller genre with our lighter approach to the amateur sleuth mystery.
The premise comes down to a question: How does a hardworking single mother and coffee shop manager go from befriending the First Lady and catering a glittering party at the Smithsonian to being placed at the top of the FBI’s Most Wanted list?
For our amateur sleuth, Clare Cosi, it begins when the President’s college-age daughter becomes a fan of her freshly roasted coffee and a regular at Clare’s D.C. jazz club. Then the young woman mysteriously vanishes, a State Department employee collapses in the shop, and Clare is fit for a frame of kidnapping and homicide.
These capital crimes are the last thing she expects to be accused of when she relocates to our nation’s capital, but Clare must solve both mysteries—and find out who framed her—or she may discover firsthand that Washington is murder.
There are shocks and reversals in Dead To The Last Drop and plenty of danger and intrigue, along with crimes “ripped from the headlines” as thriller writers like to say. But through it all, Marc and I never forgot our series’ more traditional roots. As suspenseful as the story gets, our new book is also laced with humor, heart, and hearty good food. Because you can’t save the world on an empty stomach—at least Clare Cosi and her longtime boyfriend, decorated detective Mike Quinn, can’t. And as food lovers ourselves, neither can we!
If you are new to our Coffeehouse Mystery series, don’t let that discourage you from picking up Dead To The Last Drop (our fifteenth entry). You can certainly read it as a stand-alone story, and if you like the ride, you have fourteen more books to enjoy.
But don’t miss this Washington entry. It’s embedded with hidden secrets about our nation’s capital that were inspired by my own experiences while living, studying, and working in D.C.
To read the prologue and first chapter, click here.
Dead To The Last Drop is also a culinary mystery, with an appendix of more than 25 delicious recipes, including Double-Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes, Easy “Cake Pan” Cheesecake, Carolina-style Mustard-Glazed Sticky Wings, the best Oatmeal Cookie Recipe you may ever bake, and a fantastic version of Black Magic Cake with a “secret ingredient” chocolate frosting to die for.
To see the book’s free Recipe Guide, click here.
CLEO’S NEWSLETTER: Contests, recipes, news, fun facts, and videos. To sign up, simply write an e-mail that says “sign me up” and send it to CoffeehouseMystery@gmail(dot)com. You will receive a reply with links to past newsletters that include free recipes.
TITLE CHECKLIST: Get a free title checklist with mini summaries of all 15 Coffeehouse Mysteries. To download the list as a PDF document, click here.
GIVEAWAY – An autographed copy of the new hardcover edition of Dead To The Last Drop, five autographed glossy recipe cards, a “Gimme Coffee!” Latte Cup and Saucer (made in Italy), and a pound of premium “Billionaire’s Blend” coffee from One Good Woman Coffee and Tea Co., mentioned in the book’s acknowledgment as part of the background research for Cleo’s “one good woman”—amateur sleuth Clare Cosi.
To enter to win the Dead To The Last Drop contest package mentioned above, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “coyle,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 19, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.