Cleo Coyle might utilize fairy tales in the latest Coffeehouse Mystery, Once Upon a Grind, but you have to remember, the Brothers Grimm's stories were scary, and not cozy bedtime stories. Coyle's mysteries are not cozy bedtime stories either. The latest one turns the idea of fairy tales upside down to show a dark world underneath.
It's Fairy Tale Week in New York City. The city's first Storybook Kingdom features a weekend festival celebrating the Brothers Grimm, Mother Goose and classic literary characters in Central Park. Clare Cosi, manager of the the Village Blend coffeehouse, is in the middle of it with their coffee truck. And, her ex-husband and business partner, Matt Allegro, is determined that she try some of the "magic beans", coffee beans he brought back from Ethiopia. Clare finally concedes, only to have a vision that leads her to a Russian model dressed as one of the twelve dancing princesses. But, this princess is not just sleeping. She's in a drug-induced coma. And, the death of another Russian "princess" leads a few cops to suspect Matt of murder.
Once Upon a Grind is not just a fairy tale mystery, although Coyle skillfully entwines fairy tales into the latest book. As always, Coyle involves Clare and her friends and co-workers at the Village Blend in the story. Readers return to the Village Blend setting for the friendship, atmosphere, coffee and desserts. There's a wonderful supporting cast of staff at the coffeehouse, from Esther, the poet, to the young want-to-be actors. And, there's Clare, her cop boyfriend, Mike Quinn, her ex-mother-in-law, the wonderful Madame Dubois, her daughter's boyfriend, another cop, and her ex, Matt. Once Upon a Grind is the latest story in the on-going saga of this wonderful coffeehouse and cast.
Keys, dancing princesses, knights, wolves and witches. Coyle expertly capitalizes on the popular craze for fairy tales. However, Coyle is an expert who understands the dark elements, the frightening side of fairy tales. Everyone doesn't always live happily-ever-after. Clare Cosi's magical visions may be the key to finding answers for drugged princesses, worried children, and an ex-husband locked away in jail. And, if Clare wants a happy future with her own knight in shining armor, Mike Quinn, she needs to listen to her own heart, the indicator of truth in so many fairy tales. All the elements of a good fairy tale, and a good mystery, are present in this wickedly good story, Once Upon a Grind.
Cleo Coyle's website is www.coffeehousemystery.com
Once Upon a Grind by Cleo Coyle. Berkley Prime Crime. 2014. ISBN 9780425270851 (hardcover), 402p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The author sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.