SHOT IN THE DARK
By Cleo Coyle
Berkley Prime Crime, April 17, 2018
The Village Blend coffee shop has a new distinction – best hookup hot spot. A new dating app has smartphone users swiping at possible dates faster than Clare Cosi and her baristas can keep the coffee flowing. Clare’s ex-husband Matt fills them all in on the finer points of the Cinder app where Cinder-ellas meet Cinder-fellas. Special ring tones signal when a candidate arrives in the man’s pumpkin box, and it is up to him to take the chance by swiping right or rejecting the young maiden by swiping left. All the presenting and choosing are done quickly, making way for a new round of candidates. Once the decision to meet occurs, much of the in-person side of dating takes place in public places, like the coffee house we all love.
One evening shots sound at The Village Blend. While everyone ducks, Clare springs to action and climbs to the second floor lounge. A young woman has a gun pointed at a man cowering in his seat. She is spewing the sordid details of their Cinder love match gone terribly wrong. Clare talks her down just as police arrive. The publicity kicks in just as quickly as nine different videos of the event go viral, turning this hot spot into a dead spot.
Before Clare can turn her thoughts to how to recapture her audience, she meets her former mother-in-law Madame for a late dinner, saving her from abandonment from her own over-65 dating service beau. Clare can’t avoid further trouble when she sees a dead woman floating in the Hudson River. The floater turns out to be an executive from Cinder!
As their way of fighting back against the bad publicity, the entire Cinder staff cooks up an event to be held at The Village Blend with an audience of paid party goers to guarantee excellent attendance. While Clare agrees to the stunt, she cooks up her own side event. She has a picture drawn of the offending male and passed from barista to barista so they all know who to look out for. Then she fires up her own cell phone to join Cinder and hunt him down herself.
A series of rowdy events full of mischief and mayhem follows, events not to be missed in the history of The Village Blend coffee house. Barista Esther hosts a poetry slam in the second floor lounge that is wildly popular. The crowd spills onto the outside sidewalk. Thanks to Cinder’s initiative, The Village Blend is back in business. But more occurs at this party to beat all parties than meets the eye. One very dead body sends Clare down a new avenue of espionage, betrayal, and undercover acts that undermine several companies and individuals. A possible new suspect is found when Clare pieces together many of the new clues.
I enjoyed the build up to the big comeback party when it seemed everything took off in many directions. Clare was determined to find who put the woman in the Hudson River and make sure he was punished. In doing so, she becomes entangled in discovering several corporate crimes. She takes dangerous chances to track down a killer. Many people become involved in the treachery that is uncovered, and I admire Clare’s persistence.
I thoroughly enjoyed this 17th entry in the entertaining Coffeehouse Mysteries by Cleo Coyle (real life husband and wife team Alice Alfonsi and Marc Cerasini). It began with an event that caught my attention and touched a note in my own life so I was invested in following along on Clare’s quest to find several criminals. I was glued to the pages when we came to the conclusion that was complex yet well explained. An excellent choice in reading.
Cleo Coyle's website is http://www.coffeehousemystery.com/
Shot in the Dark by Cleo Coyle. Penguin, 2018. ISBN 9780451488848 (hardcover), 352p.