Shot in the Dark
Coffeehouse Mystery, Book #17
By Cleo Coyle
Author’s website: Coffeehousemystery.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
A new Smartphone dating game turns the Village Blend into a hookup hot spot, until one dark night, when a gunshot leaves a dead body behind and the landmark coffeehouse becomes the center of a whole new scene–a crime scene.
As Village Blend manager Clare Cosi attempts to finalize a date for her wedding, her ex-husband becomes addicted to making dates through Smartphone swipes. Clare has mixed feelings about these quickie matchups happening in her coffeehouse. Even her octogenarian employer is selecting suitors by screenshot! But business is booming, and Clare works hard to keep the espresso shots flowing. Then one dark night, another kind of shot leaves a dead body for her to find.
The corpse is a successful entrepreneur who became notorious for his “hit it and quit it” behavior: prowling for women on dating apps, then devastating his conquests with morning-after insults. Though the NYPD quickly arrests one of his recent victims, Clare finds reason to believe she’s been framed.
Now, with the help of her ex and crew of quirky baristas, Clare starts “swiping” through suspects in her own shop, determined to find the real killer before another shot rings out.
A Clare Cosi adventure is always an exciting ride, and Shot in the Dark is no exception. This seventeenth entry in the long-running Coffeehouse Mystery series is a fantastic trip into the twenty-first-century world of “disposable” dating app hookups and their ramifications. I can never get enough of Cleo Coyle’s delightful characters and situations.
This time around, Clare is pleased with the additional business traffic the dating app Cinder is bringing to the Village Blend. That is until a scorned young lady unleashes her wrath at her “love ‘em and leave ‘em”, badmouthing date by firing gunshots. This is quickly followed by Clare’s discovery of a customer’s body floating in the Hudson River, and she just doesn’t buy that the young lady committed suicide or was the victim of a mugging gone wrong. When ties between the girl and Cinder emerge, and the bodies start piling up, Clare puts herself a little too close to the action for comfort, and things become dangerous for more than just Clare.
I do really love this series, and this installment is no disappointment. Cleo Coyle has created relatable, well-developed characters that are a joy to spend time with. I do like Clare and think we could be great friends. She does sometimes put herself in dangerous situations, but she is never “too stupid to live”. I appreciate her love for her fiancée, daughter, and even her ex-husband. The banter between Matt and Clare provides some laugh-out-loud moments. The other recurring characters are just as amiable, and I have a soft spot for Clare’s boss/ex-mother-in-law, the ever charming Madame.
The mystery here is solid, and I felt invested in its outcome because Clare was so invested. Her earnest investigating draws readers into the story, and I found myself on the edge of my seat at times telling myself “just one more chapter”. The book’s quick pace and the short chapters really promote this compulsive reading. As the body count rises, the pool of suspects changes, providing lots of twists and turns. The side stories concerning daughter Joy’s love life and Clare’s upcoming wedding are just as interesting as the main murder mystery thread. Throw in some undercover work misunderstandings and some illicit drugs, and there is never a dull moment. And all of the luscious descriptions of the coffee is tempting, even to this die-hard tea drinker. The recipes included at the end of the book are all mouthwatering.
Shot in the Dark is top-notch, and I recommend it to Coyle’s fans and any reader who enjoys a slightly edgier (because of the nature of the story’s emphasis on hookups) cozy mysteries.