What Does Christmas Taste like? (opening line of Chapter one)
And smell like and make one's mouth water for drinks and treats not usually part of one's normal diet.
This December Holiday entry in Cleo Coyle's Coffeehouse mystery series, with Clare Cosi, head barista and sleuth, has the gift for the reader of additional recipes for various special holiday coffee drinks as well as desserts: And, much information on the growing and selling of coffee and how it is made.
But the real treat is the excellent writing and character development from author Coyle.
Coyle has the ability to describe characters in terms of appearance, personality, and even their relationships to each other in a few words, so they become instantly recognizable.
And, it is a large cast, with more than one red herring.
I usually solve mysteries early in books and was delighted that it took me half the novel to know for certain the identity of the red haired woman, after discarding three other possibilities.
Even the coincidence of Clare also solving the death from a cold case gnawing at boyfriend and NYPD detective Mike Quinn does not detract because of the realism under the frothy fun.
This is not an English country house mystery in which a set number of characters are involved, but a large city with an ever expanding cast, many with secrets to hide and less than stellar motives.
This could have been a shorter book, a slighter book, and it still would have been a good standard crime novel, but the fleshing out of events and relationships adds substance to the pleasure in the reading.
The ongoing lives of the main characters are also interesting, and I look forward to more. Even secondary characters such a Claire's former mother-in-law and Sgt. Franco add delight and depth to the novel.
There is also the encouragement to actually read Dicken's Christmas Carol, which far too many of us only know from various movie adaptations, so that we might discover the real lesson in the story.
It is not necessary to have read previous Clare Cosi mysteries to understand or enjoy this book. This was my first foray into this series, and I did not need previous knowledge of the characters or setting to enjoy it from the beginning. Naturally, now I am on the hunt for the rest of the books.
I want to know more about what happened with Clare and international coffee buyer Matteo (And, one can only hope, his new wife) as well as how Clare met Mike Quinn.
I confess to coming from a family of tea drinkers and considered this a bit of an adventure in entering a foreign culture. I am also allergic to wheat, so with one exception (Which requires knowing how to make espresso, which I sadly do not) the desserts were also impossible for me, but I read them all eagerly anyway, salivating all the while.
Anyone who wants more recipes and information should check the author's website at [...]. There is also a link there for this author's other delightful mystery series, Haunted Bookshop, written as Alice Kimberly.