Roast Mortem by Cleo Coyle is the 9th book in the “Coffee House” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime (Penguin), August 2010

Clare Cosi, manager and head barista of the landmark Village Blend coffeehouse, has perfected the pulling of steaming hot espresso. But can she keep New York’s Bravest from getting burned?

When the firefighters of Ladder Company 189 pull Clare’s friends out of a blazing cafe, she happily comes to their rescue. As a favor to the men, she visits to their firehouse kitchen to teach them the finer points of operating their newly donated espresso machine. But more than their coffee turns out to be hot. Somebody’s torching cafes around the city, and the firefighters are beginning to die in suspicious ways.

Believing the two events are related, Clare investigates, staking out a five-borough bake sale and sniffing out clues in the pizza joints of Brooklyn. When her detective boyfriend, Mike Quinn, is pulled into the fire of a false accusation, Clare is desperate to put out the flames. But will she be able to come to Mike’s rescue before someone tries to extinguish her?

While visiting a friend Queen’s coffeehouse, an explosion erupts and luckily Clare and friends survived the ordeal. When Clare learns of another same-day explosion at a Brooklyn coffeehouse, Clare is convinced that both were an act of arson and nothing is going to stop her until she finds the arsonist. Something is amiss between Mike and his firefighter cousin and soon Clare is caught in a familial tug of war. Hearing rumors of murder and defective equipment, Clare wonders if all these incidents are linked. This suspenseful story had me riveted to the pages with my guesses and every time I thought I knew who the culprit was those twists and turns the author spun told me, not just yet. This is my first introduction to the “Coffee House” series and I loved it. You don’t have to be a coffee drinker, which I’m not, to enjoy this series which includes techniques of brewing a perfect cup of coffee. The locale, witty conversation, the baristas, Madame and the relationship between Clare, Mike and Matt creates a place where a cup of mocha is indeed a welcomed sip.

*new-to-me author

FTC Full Disclosure – The author sent me a copy of this book.

Cleo Coyle is the pseudonym of wife-husband team: Alice Alfonsi and Marc Cerasini

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog

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