Book Review: A Brew to a Kill

Whenever I [rarely] mention my blog, I hear “I’ll google it.” quite a bit. A few months ago I decided to do the same and see what pops up. And the first result that popped up was A Brew to a Kill by Cleo Coyle. The initial idea was to review this back to back with A View to A Kill and Mission Gose but the timing didn’t work out.

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Bean for bean, no one brews a better cup of coffee than Clare Cosi, manager of the Village Blend in Greenwich Village. The beans are sourced from all over the world by her ex-husband, Matt Allegro. Clare’s latest business venture, the Muffin Muse, is kicking up quite the storm. Now her baked goods can reach all Five Boroughs. But she needs to contend with Kaylie, the self appointed Kupkake Kween and her food truck. Kaylie is the least of Clare’s worries when one of her friends is struck by a care outside of the coffee shop. Things really pile up when she opens a new delivery of beans and discovers 20 lbs of Brazilian crack. Clare finds herself in the middle of the crosshairs but he’s not sure even her detective boyfriend can get her out of this one alive.

A Brew to A Kill is the eleventh entry in the Coffeehouse Mystery series. And for being a late entry in an ongoing series it is fairly accessible to first time readers. It reads at a nice clip, I stretched it out over a few weeks.I figured out the identity of the killer 20 or 30 pages for the reveal. The motivation and means to do it is pretty out there. And the killer made something detailing how and why he killed? And saved it on his computer before deleting it? Come one, man. Wouldn’t a digital artist be aware few things can be truly deleted. Or at least always work offline.

But the biggest downfall is the number of characters. Trying to recount the story I counted at least two dozen characters! I understand a lot of these have been established in earlier books, but damn. I suppose it gives it a bit more authenticity, there’s a lot of damn people in New York City. Towards the end at the penultimate party when a new [to me] barista popped up, I was questioning if this character was truly necessary.

Despite my love of the genre, I honestly can’t think of many mysteries I’ve read. This is also the first time I’ve heard the term cozy mystery. Which is a subgenre of crime fiction, where the characters doing the sleuthing are normal (i.e. not cops, detectives, or spys) and have an everyday job, like manager of a coffeehouse. Good television examples would be Murder, She Wrote and Diagnosis Murder.

Each installment in the “Coffeehouse Mysteries” includes recipes. A Brew to a Kill includes a number of coffee cake and muffin recipes. I did not try any out. While I enjoy cooking, baking is different terrain for me. Cleo Coyle is a pen name for author Alice Alfonsi and her husband, Marc Cerasini. I’d have to imagine this series is popular, the 15th title came out last fall. The couple also write another series, the “Haunted Bookshop”, under the name Alice Kimberly with six novels so far.

If you’re a mystery fan and haven’t checked out the “Coffehouse Mysteries” I’d say give it a crack. But maybe start with an earlier book. It was likable but not my cup of joe.



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