Merrimon Book Reviews

Roasted Coffee Beans

Illustration of Coffea arabica plant and seeds

Mary Cassatt

From Merrimon Book Reviews
Roast Mortem
Roast Mortem by Cleo Coyle
by Cleo Coyle

Humorous, clever and moving culinary mystery

When Clara Cosi, manager of the Village Blend coffeehouse, gets caught in a fire at Enzo Testa's Caffe Lucia, she just knows that the fire was started by someone even though the firemen do not believe that the fire is arson.   During the fire her friends,  Enzo and Madame Dreyfus Allegro Dubois are injured in the fire, Clara is all the more determined to catch the culprit.  Teaching the firemen how to operate the new espresso machine recently donated to the firehouse is the perfect excuse to get closer to learn any more details about the fire investigation. When another coffeehouse catches fire and a fireman is killed, the case becomes deadlier and more mysterious.  Even her detective boyfriend Mike Quinn gets caught up in the case.

ROAST MORTEM, ninth in author husband and wife team's popular Coffeehouse series, is a cozy mystery with just enough spunk and modernity in her characters blended perfectly with  intriguing clues and a tribute to the good things in life -- coffee, art, and the heroism of firemen.  Dedicated to the New York Firemen, ROAST MORTEM gives a reader intriguing insights into the world of the firemen.  The firemen are not idealized and a variety of  characters from irritating to admirable can be found at the local fire station.  Indeed, ROAST MORTEM is all the more a worthy tribute precisely on account of the multi-faceted portraits created by Cleo Coyle.  Coffee and coffee lore fills the pages of this mystery, including a guide to roasting coffee at the end of the book that will leave readers anxious to explore this culinary art.  In addition, recipes for some of the meals mentioned in the book are included at the end. 

Most moving for this reader was the description of Enzo's mural.  Not only does Clara's vision and feelings honor the beauty of art, but also through her eyes, the reader truly feels the destruction caused by fire, not just of things themselves but of something more.  Cleo Coyle gives readers a whole cast of wonderful characters whose interactions create a finely woven puzzle for the mystery lover.  Set in New York City, ROAST MORTEM takes the reader into the heart of the setting.  ROAST MORTEM cleverly keeps the reader guessing til the end and, by the end, leaves a reader appreciative of the finer things, not just coffee and art but also friends and family.  A delightful mystery through and through!

For mystery lovers new to the Coffeehouse series, ROAST MORTEM can be read as a stand alone.  Sleuth Clara Cosi, however, will most definitely leave a reader wanting to read more Coffeehouse mysteries!

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime (August 3, 2010)

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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