Latte Trouble by Cleo Coyle

Coffeehouse Mysteries, #3


It's Fashion Week in New York City -- and Clare's shop, the historic Village Blend, is the location of a prestigious insider's party for loyal customer and iconic designer Lottie Harmon, who is about to launch a collection of coffee-inspired accessories aptly named Java Jewelry. But the event, which is attended by the city's most zealous fashionistas, goes terribly wrong when a customer is poisoned and dies from cyanide in his latte. A barista, who coincidentally was recently dumped by the victim, is arrested and charged with murder. But Clare knows in her heart that her employee is innocent and begins to investigate the people surrounding the enigmatic Lottie Harmon. When Clare uncovers a scheme to blackmail one of Lottie's business partners and then that partner suddenly turns up dead, she knows that there is trouble brewing.

I'm really digging the Coffeehouse mystery series. Once I got past the almost textbook feel of the first with coffee instructions, the snuck bit of coffee lore keeps me entertained in between awkward situations for the heroine Clare.

This time it involves fashion week, where the most implausible part of the story isn't the murder, but a coffee-lined accessory and clothing trend becoming famous. Clare's amusing and loyal barrista has the finger unreasonably pointed at him by annoying new police detectives, so of course Clare must do all she can to find out who the real culprit is. That isn't that easy since the author put down a layered and tricky foundation. There's some turns and things to keep you on your toes, with or without the added caffeine.

Despite the clever mystery plotting, this one is only a 3 star of the series. Clare is sometimes a bit too careless, but she's still an enjoyable heroine. I like the realistic situations she faces with her independent daughter Joy and the back-and-forth strange relationship with her ex husband, Matteo. Madame as the mother-in-law is fun as always, if not a little stereotypical.

Quinn...I had him pegged for a strong and intense love interest eventually but really he's rather boring now. He almost comes across a little emo and I just don't sense strong enough interest. Maybe it's because I'm rarely in the mood for the soon-to-be divorced drama or the child custody angst. Not every relationship has to be fun and light, but I don't want depressing downers like that every time the two characters talk.

The ending brings out a creative culprit and not someone I would have suspected. They kind of pop up as a possibility later but it was a twist. A well done mystery that's lackings oem of the personal fun and charm of the previous two.

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