Dead to the Last Drop
A Coffeehouse Mystery, Book #15
By Cleo Coyle
Author Website: www.coffeehousemystery.com
After the White House asks coffeehouse manager and master roaster Clare Cosi to consult on the coffee service for a Rose Garden Wedding, she discovers a historic pot was used as a CIA “dead drop” decades before. Now long-simmering secrets boil over, scalding Clare and the people around her…
Clare’s visit to the nation’s capital is off to a graceful start. Her octogenarian employer is bunking with her in a charming Georgetown mansion, and she’s invited to work with a respected curator on the Smithsonian’s culinary salute to coffee in America.
Unfortunately, Clare’s new Village Blend DC is struggling to earn a profit—until its second floor jazz club attracts a high-profile fan, the college-age daughter of the U.S. President. Clare’s stock rises as the First Lady befriends her, but she soon learns a stark lesson: Washington can be murder.
First a stylish State Department employee suspiciously collapses in her coffeehouse. Then the President’s daughter goes missing. Is she a runaway bride or is something more sinister in play? After another deadly twist, Clare is on the run with her NYPD detective boyfriend. Branded an enemy of the state, she must piece together clues and uncover the truth before her life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness come to a bitter end. (Goodreads)
Dead to the Last Drop, the fifteenth installment in the Coffeehouse Mystery series, just might be the best book in the series thus far. Action packed with a quick pace, Clare and Mike are on the run in Washington, D.C.
This installment takes Clare out of her New York City coffeehouse to a second location in Washington, D.C. She plans to be at Village Blend DC for a couple of months, just long enough to smooth out any opening wrinkles. However, the jazz supper club (located on the second floor of the coffeehouse) is not as successful as everyone hoped, and the chef that Madame hired is totally full of himself and out of touch with what people at the coffee house are interested in eating. Luckily, the open mic night at the club draws a very talented college student who is later revealed to be Abigail Parker, the President’s daughter, and she packs the place. One problem down, Clare looks to find a way to break Chef Hopkins’ contract. Meanwhile, Mike is dealing with a dirty boss who is also sexually harassing him. When an intoxicated man collapses in the coffeehouse after hours and later dies, Clare falls under suspicion. When Abigail goes missing, and everyone fears that she has been kidnapped or murdered, Clare again falls under suspicion. Now wanted by the local police and several other agencies, Clare and Mike attempt to stay one step ahead of the authorities while trying to find Abigail and a murderer.
Dead to the Last Drop’s format is a little different from the other books in the series. Told from the present day viewpoint of Clare and Mike on the run and in trouble, the rest of the story unfolds through flashbacks. This keeps the intensity of the story going, and I felt completely invested in the characters and compelled to keep reading way past my usual bedtime. The pace of the writing is quick, and the overall feeling of danger and intrigue carries through from the first page to the last. I have always considered Coyle’s Coffeehouse mysteries to be, though cozy, still a bit edgy, and this book is the edgiest yet. Each plot thread is thoroughly twisty and interesting, and they all combine to make one heck of a story! I particularly find the thread about Abigail’s father intriguing.
Moving the action from NYC to the nation’s Capital keeps the long running series fresh. But, fear not, all of the series’ endearing characters make appearances, including Matt, Joy, and Madame. The characters are what keep me coming back to these books again and again. They, including major, secondary, and new characters, are all well developed and realistic. Clare is smart, independent, and relatable. Mike is police officer tough with just enough gentleness to be endearing. It is interesting to see a more vulnerable side as he deals with his boss. He is integrity personified. I feel for Abigail; she truly is the victim of her circumstances and struggles with being defined by expectations of her. I rooted for her and Stan, the jazz club’s drummer and military vet, to find a happy ending. You will have to read for yourself to see if they make it. Of course, there is plenty of talk about food, coffee, and music within the book’s pages, and Coyle is always generous with the quantity of recipes featured in the back of the books. This time, there are also historical tidbits about coffee and presidents and a jazz playlist. All fun extras indeed.
I really enjoyed Dead to the Last Drop. If you have not read this smart, cozy series, this is a good place to start (I guarantee you will want to go back and read the other books). I recommend it to any reader who enjoys strong, clearly defined characters, a brisk pace, and political intrigue.