Death by Peppermint Cappuccino
A Bookstore Café Mystery #12
By Alex Erickson
Author’s website: alexericksonbooks.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Pine Hills, Ohio, bookstore-cafe owner Krissy Hancock has high hopes for this holiday season, but a Grinch with murder in mind is set to ruin the celebrations for everyone . . .
Christmas has come to Pine Hills, and Krissy’s blooming relationship with Officer Paul Dalton has her in an especially festive mood. The café’s new seasonal signature drink is a hit too. But not everyone shares the same holiday spirit. There are some loud complaints about businesses profiting off the season and losing focus on what Christmas is really about. And as if on cue, a shop owner who’d been price-gouging his customers is found dead after receiving a mysterious gift . . .
Krissy doesn’t want to let the troubling events put a damper on the holiday, especially with her father and his girlfriend in town. But when other shop owners are targeted she has no choice. She needs to wrap up this case quickly before one of her friends—or even Krissy herself—ends up on a Grinchy killer’s deadly gift list . . . (from Goodreads)
Death by Coffee, in Pine Hills, Ohio, might be head and shoulders above the national chain stores when it comes to signature holiday coffees and teas, a book shop, and cheerful service under one roof. This peppermint cappuccino sounds like the best reward for Christmas shopping! Pine Hills proprietors are unique in that their businesses are independently owned and managed. No big box stores or franchises for these folks!
That’s why it was a surprise when Krissy went into a local gift shop where the proprietor kicked out a potential customer because of his very non-conservative attire. Andrew, the proprietor of Andrew’s Gifts, saw the young man’s long hair, black clothing, and goth-looking accessories and decided he was there to steal something. Krissy had gone into Andrew’s for Christmas lights for the party, but the owner didn’t acknowledge her presence, she didn’t see any holiday lights, and left.
Earlier that day, Krissy and close friend Rita were decorating a room at the church where their writers’ club meets, as their Christmas party would be held that evening. Krissy had heard less than favorable things from ladies at the church about businesses feeding their own greed by selling all that Christmas stuff at inflated prices, including both Andrew’s store and her own bookstore café. They were also quick to say that the books they discuss had no place in a church building.
Krissy’s father, James, and his girlfriend, Laura, had come into town for the holidays and James stopped at the church. He brought a personal, autographed ARC of his latest thriller for Rita, his greatest fan. His kindness almost brought her to tears, and she couldn’t wait to savor it.
That evening, James and Laura briefly joined the party. While the writer’s group was having an enjoyable time, Andrew was murdered inside his shop across the street. When emergency vehicles showed up, they tried to learn what happened. Andrew wasn’t a friendly guy, but rudeness wasn’t an excuse for murder!
Krissy had helped with several murders since moving to Pine Hills, but will not get involved with this one. She is curious, but is too busy with the shop, Christmas preparations, James and Laura’s visit, and trying to spend time with Paul, her favorite police officer. Her intentions were forgotten when she learned that a gift box had been delivered to Andrew hours before his death, then saw one of her close friends and owner of a specialty candy shop, Jules, receive a box just like it. After the police picked it up, they learned that Krissy was mentioned in the note inside Jules’s “gift” box. Krissy has taken the gloves off; nobody will hurt her friends or implicate her!
The quirky characters are great, and I can almost picture each of the regulars. Gestures, facial expressions, conversations and behaviors are all part of the descriptions that brings them to life. While wandering in Krissy’s thoughts isn’t always a pretty place to be, she brings much of the wit, the intuition to put together clues, and a cheerful, positive outlook to every situation. Paul is laid back when not on the job and brings a calming influence into her life. Officer Garrison has become someone valued and appreciated, a breath of fresh air after Detective Buchanan. I was happy to see some characters who visited this series on the periphery of earlier mysteries are back again. They add to Krissy’s life, her friends, and at times, the atmosphere at Death by Coffee. Misfit is my kind of cat!
This is a delightful holiday read that many cozy mystery lovers will appreciate. Along with solving the murder, there is a secondary theme. I don’t typically look beyond the mystery and, close friendships or relationships, and delivers additional value to the novel. It was clear enough to see repeated once I noticed it, and is appreciated. The mystery itself was a challenge and held my attention. Andrew hadn’t been well liked, but Jules was, so that changed the suspect pool. The bad guy was a bit of a surprise, even though I considered the person more than once. I was very satisfied with the conclusion, and highly recommend this cozy mystery!