This time it is the writing team of Alice Alfonsi and her husband Marc who run the Virtual Village Blend at website www.CoffeehouseMystery.com. These light, amateur sleuth murder mysteries feature a cast of quirky characters who work in a landmark Greenwich Village coffeehouse. Because they are also culinary mysteries, each book includes the added bonus of recipes. The website at www.coffeehousemystery.com includes a FREE TITLE CHECKLIST OF BOOKS IN ORDER with mini summaries of each book and photos of the dustjackets. It even offers a guide to reading coffee grounds!
I think Lesa wouldn’t mind if we shared this quote of hers written for the book in the series ROAST MORTEM –
“No one combines a cozy atmosphere with a realistic crime novel any better than Cleo Coyle does. If you pick up one of the Coffeehouse Mysteries, you might expect a cozy little off-scene murder, and a cheerful amateur sleuth. ... But, Coyle gives us the atmosphere, the recipes and coffee-making tips, along with murder and arson, violent crimes...”
On What Grounds
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Listening Length: 7 hours and 59 minutes
Audible.com Release Date: June 9, 2011
I loved this initial mystery in this coffee based series revolving around the Blend, a coffee house of many awards, many blends of coffee, and many authentic ways of preparing them. The owner known affectionately as "Madame" giving her respect she earned, was great at scheming as well. Her son Matt was married to Claire for many of their years working at the Blend, but when they divorced, Claire took their daughter Joy and moved from their Greenwich Village home in Manhattan to New Jersey as what Claire thought of as a better place to school and raise Joy.
Now that Joy was at culinary school in Manhattan and loving it, Claire takes Madame up on her offer to return to manage the Blend and live in the apartment above the store. However, Madame made the same offer to her son Matt.
Claire's first night back was after hours and all she wanted to do was get a good night's rest before starting fresh the next day. Just settled in bed, Claire heard heavy shoes clumping across the floor below her. She got up to search the Blend with her cat Java, when she ran smack into Matt. After a squabble, the two realized that Madame was up to her old hi jinks in trying to get them together again. Luckily Claire and Matt got along fairly well as a divorced couple.
Tired as they were Claire discovered the trash had not been taken out by the barista of the evening, student dancer Annabelle. As Claire picked up the big bags at the bottom of the stairs, she found Annabelle crumpled there as well. Emergency services were called to rescue the unconscious Annabelle who left no clues as to whether her fall was deliberate or accident. Detective Quinn arrived from the NYPD to investigate. A spark went off between Quinn and Claire Cosi right away. They searched for clues, finding a few on their own as well as a few whoppers at a large ball for the higher echelons of society.
I loved the narrator of this story who did excellent jobs at area accents, especially a Jamaican dance instructor, Madame, Quinn, Matt, and Claire herself, all with varying degrees of New York or New Jersey accents. Several minor unique tones joined the others to round out an excellent scenario in book one of The Blend mysteries.