Dead Cold Brew
A Coffeehouse Mystery, Book #16
By Cleo Coyle
Author’s website: www.Coffeehousemystery.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
After everything Clare and Mike have been through, they deserve a little bit of happily ever after. So when Mike decides to put a ring on Clare’s finger, Clare’s eccentric octogenarian employer is there to help. She donates the perfect coffee-colored diamonds to include in the setting and the name of a world-famous jeweler who happens to be an old family friend. But while the engagement is steeped in perfection, the celebration is not long lived.
First, a grim-faced attorney interrupts their party with a mysterious letter bequeathing a strange, hidden treasure to Clare’s daughter. Next, the renowned jeweler who designed Clare’s ring is found poisoned in his shop. Both events appear to be connected to a cold case murder involving a sunken ship, an Italian curse, a suspiciously charming jewel thief, and a shocking family secret. With deadly trouble brewing, Clare must track down clues in some of New York’s most secret places before an old vendetta starts producing fresh corpses.
Dead Cold Brew, the sixteenth book in the Coffeehouse Mystery series, is as fresh as the first book, On What Grounds. Combining a sixty-year-old mystery and sunken ship with the current day perils of a sniper targeting the police, it is a suspenseful adventure from beginning to end.
Someone dressed as a superhero is targeting police, which is stressful enough for Claire and her boyfriend Mike Quinn, but when one of Mike’s team is shot right in front of the coffeehouse, things hit a little too close to home. Claire is struck by the reality that her relationship with Mike is not enough if something were to happen to him, and the pair finally becomes engaged to be married. In the midst of the police drama, Matt is approached to submit a custom coffee blend to be served on the replica luxury ship, the SS Andrea Doria. Matt has ties to the original ship as his godfather Gustavo was on board when it sunk in 1956. When a secret legacy is bestowed on Matt and Gustavo’s daughter Sophia and Gustavo is poisoned, the story really heats up, the sixty-year-old mystery and the present day police struggles collide. Murder, kidnapping, purloined jewels, and stolen identities all come together for quite a ride.
The Coffeehouse Mystery series is one of the meatier cozy series out there. Dead Cold Brew starts off with the exciting sinking of a real life Italian luxury liner and does not slow down until the suspenseful climax at the end. Since this is the sixteenth book in the series, one would not be surprised is the series was starting to go stale, but Dead Cold Brew is as fresh as ever. There is a lot going on throughout the book, but the various plot threads never become messy and all is neatly tied up at the end of the book. I like that Claire and Mike’s relationship is progressing, but I am left a bit perplexed at Matt and Claire’s continued flirtation. Their relationship seems to be stuck, and I am curious to see what, if anything, changes in the future with Matt’s evolving personal life.
Claire is a strong, level-headed protagonist. Perhaps it is because she and I are about the same age, but I find her quite relatable and realistic. Though she does find herself in some crazy and dangerous situations, they never come across as totally implausible nor she “too stupid to live”. I have never been able to decide how I feel about Claire’s ex-husband Matt. On one hand, he is a cad, but he is also charming and seems to genuinely care for Claire. I do, however, definitely like Mike. At times, I find him too standoffish, but I do think he and Claire make a good team. The recurring supporting characters, including the coffeehouse staff, Madame, and police officers add realism to the story. The characters specific to Dead Cold Brew are more caricature like, but interesting and varied. They provide enough red herring s and Italian color to keep me reading.
Dead Cold Brew would be just fine with only one mystery, either the police sniper or that revolving around the ship sinking. At first, the two do not seem to go together at all, but Coyle does a masterful job of weaving the past and present together. Even though I did figure out both mysteries rather early on, this did not make the book any less suspenseful or enjoyable.
I liked Dead Cold Brew quite a lot and heartily recommend it to fans of the Coffeehouse Mystery series and to readers who enjoy weightier cozy mysteries.