Holiday Grind Mass Market Paperback – Nov 2 2010
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About the Author
CLEO COYLE is a pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini. Both are New York Times bestselling authors of The Coffeehouse Mysteries, now celebrating over ten years in print. Alice and Marc are also bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for Lucasfilm, NBC, Fox, Disney, Imagine, and MGM. They live and work in New York City, where they write independently and together, including the nationally bestselling Haunted Bookshop Mysteries.
Top Customer Reviews
The star of the series is Clare Cosi, who is manager and part-owner of the Village Blend, a coffeehouse in New York. Her business partner is her ex-husband, Matteo "Matt" Allegro, who is an international coffee broker and is responsible for sourcing the beans for the coffeehouse. Matt's elderly grandmother actually owned the Village Blend, and she handed it down to Clare and Matt when they married.
Clare is hosting a private tasting party to sample the new holiday latte blends. It was actually the brainstorm of her friend, Alfred Glockner, to call them "Fa-la-la-la Lattes." When Alfred is late for the party, Clare decides to hit the streets to look for him. He volunteers as a Traveling Santa, so he can usually be found milling the streets in the area to raise money for the less fortunate. When Clare finds his sleigh and cashbox on the street with Alfred nowhere in sight, she becomes worried. She notices two sets of footprints leading into the alley, and only one coming out. She follows the trail and finds Alfred, who has been gunned down. She immediately calls the police and, while waiting for them to show, she notices that the snow is falling more heavily. She sees a trail of footprints that match Alfred's boots coming out of the courtyard into the alley. Realizing that the footprints would soon be obliterated by the falling snow, she follows them to try to figure out where Alfred had been.
Clare is an amateur sleuth, and she gets herself into all sorts of trouble poking her nose into other people's business! I found her to be a very likeable protagonist. The mystery definitely kept me on my toes, and there is much more going on than meets the eye.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It's Christmas time in New York City and at the Village Blend Coffee House. Snow is falling, lights are twinkling and a charity Santa is found dead in the alley by Clare Cosi. Clare is the co-owner and manager of the Village Blend, an independent coffee house in the heart of Greenwich Village. She has a propensity for finding dead bodies and a strong need to help solve the murder. Since the expired Santa was an acquaintance of hers that often came into the Blend to warm up from his rounds, this time is no exception.
As with all the Coffeehouse mysteries, the setting is paramount. The holiday season and all its craziness is written about perfectly with the scenes coming alive in the reader's mind. Many of the characters we have come to love (and hate) are back including Matt and Bree, Mike Quinn and many of the baristas at the Blend. A great, believable mystery is at the heart of this book and it kept me guessing until the end.
While I love the series and would encourage the reader to read all of them from the beginning, it would be possible for someone to pick this one up as it stands on its own.
Another winner in a winning series !
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.
This installment is set soon after Thanksgiving, when Clare is trying to invest her staff with a little holiday spirit. She's adding new items to the coffeehouse menu, flavored lattes that capture "what Christmas tastes like" to different people -- a suggestion made by a "traveling Santa," one of the charity-money-raising Santas whom she's befriended. When Al is found dead -- by Clare -- she's certain that it was murder, NOT a mugging gone wrong. And after Al's daughter pleads with her to help... Well, you know what happens. Clare has to investigate!
The result is, easily, as enjoyable as the rest of the series: good storytelling, believable situations (with the nit-picking exception that I don't buy that the holiday-loving Clare wouldn't have read the original Dickens Christmas Carol), and regular characters who each have their own story arcs. I'm glad to see more of barista Esther Best, for instance, and even Java the cat gets a few walk-on parts. The mystery is fun to puzzle over, certainly. And you'll continue to learn more about coffee, along with enjoying a large section of recipes for holiday treats (from latkes to Italian cookies) which could probably supply most office parties for the entire season.
While most cozy mysteries do really demand that you start with the first in the series, I think this one could be read standalone more than most. If the premise appeals to you (I know some people really love Christmas-time mysteries) don't be dissuaded by the fact that you don't know What Has Gone Before. It'll be fine.
All in all: a good book to curl up with in front of a roaring fire.
When traveling Santa Alfred Glockner fails to show at the Village Blend for Clare Cosi's fa-la-la-la-la latte holiday party, Clare takes it upon herself to go out in the freezing snow to find him. Unfortunately, she finds him dead in a nearby alley from what appears to be a random mugging. A couple of things just do not add up and once again, Clare sets out to do her Nancy Drew thing.
As the story falls into place, it is not just Santa that has a couple of secrets this holiday season and with the help of Madam, who just happens to know the right people, plus Clare's usual cast of characters - not to mention a new vigilante cop - the story slowly unfolds until you hit the end and think "that was it, this long meandering book and boom it's over".
As I said, it was not my favorite of the series, the beginning did not seem as well laid out as the previous books and the writing was a bit roundabout. Parts were thrown in, Mike's ex-wife, that were not necessary. There did not seem to be as much humor as the other books - so over all I would say that this is only "so-so" as compared to her previous offerings.
Do not be misled by the page count in this book. It says 384 pages but in truth the story itself is only 279 pages. The remaining 105 pages are recipes, tips and information concerning holiday gift giving organizations. Not that that is wrong, it just misleads the reader when you know the story is ending, but there is quite a bit of pages to go.