Series: Coffeehouse Mystery #12
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Published by Berkley on 4 December 2012
Reading Challenges: 2013 Ho-Ho-Ho Read-a-thon
Clare Cossi, manager of Village Blend, ought be concentrating on the holiday season but she is pushed back into investigating when a part-time employee Moiren is murdered. She feels the police are ignoring key evidence by trying to link this murder with a serial stalker so with a little help from family and friends, Clare sets out to bring Moiren’s killer to justice.
Moiren or M as she liked to be called kept much of her private life hidden from her co-workers. It is only after she died that Clare realised just how little she knew about her. Moiren worked as a baker for Clare’s friend and sold the goods part time at Village Blend. This sounds a little callous but thankfully the body count rises as examining what Moiren and the new victim had in common points Clare in the right direction.
Clare as usual is fairly unflappable until someone threatens a person she cares about. She approaches her investigation in a fairly logical manner and uncovers a large number of clues that the cops failed to notice. Her loyalty to her staff is shown repeatedly and she even manages to be civil to her ex-husband. Clare’s biggest flaw would have to be pride as she fails to inform the police when she thinks she knows who the real killer is and decides to get definitive evidence herself.
There are suspects galore and I wouldn’t have minded if Coyle had reduced the pool a little and used that to flesh out their motives and backgrounds. As is the case with most cozies, interactions with other characters are key and Coyle gives us a blend of colourful regulars such as Madame (Clare’s ex-mother-in-law) and eccentric newcomers. The detective in charge of the case deserves special mention as he is a wannabe crime writer convinced that his investigation can only be solved through the use of forensics. Naturally he goes haring off in the wrong direction despite the protestations of Clare and his temporary side-kick.
There is an undercurrent of violence in this novel that doesn’t relate to the murders. Clare attacks several people and is grabbed a number of times in the novel so hard that she develops bruises. She rationalises or laughs off each instance. Frankly it made me a little uncomfortable that she was so blasé about it and I couldn’t understand why this violence was included because it didn’t further the plot.
This book can be read as a standalone if you want and there are recipes at the back of the book which might tempt you.