Holiday Buzz: An Excerpt and Giveaway from Cleo Coyle

Holiday Buzz
The following excerpt was specially abridged
by Cleo Coyle, author of HOLIDAY BUZZ:
A Coffeehouse Mystery.

When a star falls, a soul goes up to God.
—Hans Christian Andersen, “The Little Match Girl”

Chapter One
“So how’s the weather outside?” I asked. “Frightful?”

“Far from it,” said Tucker Burton, pulling a woolen stocking cap off his floppy brown mop. “There’s not even a hint of snow . . .”

There was no hint of murder, either. Not then. I was still hours away from finding that poor girl’s bludgeoned body; and soon after, I, Clare Cosi, would be the one to find her cold-blooded killer. At this hour, however, standing behind my coffeehouse counter, I wasn’t thinking about murder weapons or contextual evidence. I didn’t plan on interrogating a reality show diva; hoodwinking a New York hockey player; or butting heads with a conniving Cajun cook. And I certainly wasn’t expecting to trump one of the biggest forensic freaks in the NYPD.

At three weeks to Christmas, my mind was on my customers. Festive shopping bags and gift-wrapped boxes had joined the smartphones and laptops at our marble tables. From morning to evening, exhausted shoppers packed the Village Blend in need of a warm cup of Joe and a moment of peace.

Our tree was duly decorated, its piney branches scenting the air. Jazzy renditions of holiday classics drifted from our sound system, and flickering red orange flames sent a glow of warmth from our exposed brick fireplace.

My customers appeared relaxed and happy. At last, the crazy-busy worlds had calmed down.

Ironically, my own work schedule was ramping up to full throttle. Tonight my baristas and I were in charge of the beverage service for the first of three exclusive parties in the Great New York Cookie Swap, an annual tradition that gave city bakers a showcase while raking in a Santa’s sleigh of cash for charity.

(Exclusive excerpt abridged to…)

Chapter Two
The rest of that afternoon and evening, I stayed focused on the Cookie Swap, and for a few hours, I was actually free of worry. But now it was close to eleven o’clock, the party was over, the cleanup work done. My baristas were gone, rushing off with late-night plans. And Moirin had disappeared halfway through the party, much to the chagrin of her employer, Janelle, the pastry chef who supplied my shop’s baked goods.

At eight thirty, the pretty young assistant baker had taken a cigarette break and had never come back. I was flummoxed by this. Moirin Fagan had never ducked out on a shift, and leaving her boss alone was completely irresponsible. Concerned for Janelle, I sent a member of my staff to her display table where she helped out for the rest of the night. Now I was calling it a night. Grabbing my white parka, I wished the restaurant’s janitorial staff a happy holiday.

Then the glass doors closed behind me, the lock clicked into place, and I stood alone in the shadows of Bryant Park. As I began to cross the open space, a blast of arctic air swept through the city’s steel and glass canyons. The gust muted the roar of the nighttime streets and carried the sting of ice crystals, the first chilly breath of the approaching monster.

Shivering, I flipped up my hood, barely acknowledging the dazzling holiday wonderland around me. Thousands of tiny bulbs twinkled on the London plane trees. Beside the brightly lit ice rink, a lavish Christmas tree blazed with primary colors. Then, with no warning, the private park went suddenly dark.

I froze, midstride. Skyscrapers towered above me. Their windows shone like near-earth stars, but they were too far away to help me see. Good thing 40th Street paralleled the park. The trees diffused its streetlamps, but the ambient glow was strong enough to light my way. I began moving again and heard approaching footsteps. The sound might have alarmed me, but it came with girlish giggles and male laughter.

A well-dressed couple emerged out of the gloom ahead. The young man held a bottle of champagne. The young woman tottered on high-heeled boots. She tripped on a paving stone and nearly fell. Her companion caught her, and they both found this hysterical.

The two loudly moved toward the darkened carousel and walked through the unlocked gate. That’s when their laughter stopped. In appalled tones, they whispered back and forth then walked quickly away, passing me.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

The boy pointed. “Some drunken woman is sleeping it off on that merry-go-round.”

“Yeah, nasty!” added the girl.

“A woman?” I asked. “Are you sure?”

“Of course, we’re sure! She’s right there on the floor.” The girl rolled her eyes and tugged on her boyfriend’s thick overcoat. “Come on . . .”

The temperature was falling. The wind was getting stronger, the frigid flakes of snow biting my face. But Jack and Jill’s discovery troubled me. The sleeping woman might be drunk, or she might be homeless and in need of help. Either way, death from exposure was a real possibility on a night like this, so I strode to the carousel to speak with this stranger.

Right outside the carousel gate, I tripped. Just like Tipsy Girl, my heel caught on a loose paving stone—unusual for a private park like this one, a lawsuit waiting to happen. I nearly fell, but there was no boy to catch me, so I caught myself.

“Hello?” I called, my voice competing with the wind.

The carousel was shrouded in darkness, and the circular platform rocked slightly as I stepped aboard. I maneuvered around the masterfully carved horses, each one frozen mid-prance, eyes wide and staring.

Finally I spied the woman. She lay faceup, her limbs sprawled, as if she were making a snow angel on the wooden floor.

Under blunt-cut bangs, her eyes appeared glassy, like the frozen horses, but her gaze was fixed on the painted ceiling. A black shadow masked her features, so I stooped down for a closer look just as headlights from a bus on 40th flash lit the scene.

I finally saw her entire face—and the halo of blood around her head. Stifling a scream, I dropped to my knees beside her.

This woman wasn’t homeless or some nameless party guest. She was my part-time employee, poor, missing Moirin Fagan. And she wasn’t sleeping or passed out drunk. She was dead.

Here is the official book trailer for the Coffeehouse Mystery series:

NYPD Stainless Steel Travel Mug** Thanks to the Cleo, I have one (1) signed copy of HOLIDAY BUZZ, her collector’s recipe card for Candy Cane Frosting, and a stainless steel NYPD travel mug from New York City’s Police Museum, which Cleo promises will keep your coffee safe and warm. Contest open to residents of the US only. Contest ends December 15. Leave a valid email-address with your comment. Book, card, and cup will be shipped directly from the author. **

Join Clare Cosi for a double-shot of danger in her latest Coffeehouse Mystery, HOLIDAY BUZZ, now a “holiday mystery pick” by B&N and a Mystery Guild Featured Alternate Selection. AudioGo (BBC America) has picked up the rights to produce the audiobook, which will be released next fall.

Click here for a special peek at the holiday recipesNY-Cheesecake-Cookies-Cleo-Coyle featured in Holiday Buzz, including Cleo’s New York Cheesecake Cookies (pictured). The live link opens an illustrated PDF file that you can print, save, or share.

And don’t miss Cleo’s previous bestselling Coffeehouse Mystery, A Brew To A Kill, a “must-read” mystery A Brew to a Killpick by B&N that was praised by Kirkus as “a foodie’s delight…and a satisfying rich mystery.” When a mysterious driver runs down an innocent friend and associate, Clare embarks on a New York odyssey, tracking down clues through the city’s diverse boroughs to stop a ruthless killer whose dark plan has only just begun. A Brew To A Kill celebrates the food trucks and street chefs of New York and includes more than 20 recipes. Get a sneak peek at many of them by clicking here.

Meet the Authors
Cleo Coyle is a pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, who writes in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini. Like their 12 Coffeehouse Mystery novels, their 5 Haunted Bookshop novels (written under the name Alice Kimberly), are national bestselling works of amateur sleuth fiction for Penguin. When not haunting coffeehouses or hunting ghosts, Alice and Marc are New York Times bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for Lucasfilm, NBC, Fox, Disney, Imagine, and MGM. Alice is a former journalist and children’s book author; Marc an author of military nonfiction and thrillers. They live and work in New York City. To find out more, visit their online coffeehouse at

Friend Cleo Coyle on Facebook
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Download the Coffeehouse Mystery checklist with summaries of each title by clicking here.

Sign up for the free Coffeehouse Mystery newsletter, which always includes recipes, by sending an e-mail that says “sign me up” to this address: CoffeehouseMystery(at)gmail(dot)com.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

59 responses to “Holiday Buzz: An Excerpt and Giveaway from Cleo Coyle

  1. Dear (Santa) Dru,
    All I want for Christmas is Cleo’s newest book, Holiday Buzz. I have been a good girl all year (mostly) and would be SO happy to win a copy of this, along with the travel mug and signed recipe card! Thank you so much for allowing me to (enter) ask!

    Merry Christmas!

  2. I love this series! sarah2323 at gmail dot com

  3. With a mystery, recipes, and wonderful characters, this series is a favorite.


  4. I enjoy your books, but I think I would enjoy that mug at ;east as much. Dee

  5. I love this series and the Christmas books are always a special treat!

  6. Great series.Thanks for having this contest. Love the recipes too.

  7. Thank you for the article and the great contest. Blessings, Susan Fryman

  8. I love Cleo’s books and I love contests.

  9. I received my download of Holiday Buzz and while I’m so excited to start reading it I hesitate because I don’t ever want your stories to end and more than ever this year I need the holiday spirit to fill me as much and as long as possible! Instead of searching for a new job I want to curl up with my iPad and a good cup of coffee and start reading! Making myself wait until Saturday to enjoy the pleasure of your latest book is about to do me in!! Thanks for writing and sharing your great talent with us!
    P.S. while I download the kindle version I also have all the hard or soft-cover versions and I love seeing all those beautiful covers on my bookshelf!!

  10. Alicia Farage

    So hoping I win as I love Cleo’s books and recipes….. Happy Decemeber!

    • Alicia Farage

      Oops – I can tell that I’m in a hurry! I do know the correct way to spell December! 🙂

  11. Cleo is a great cozy author and I love cozies with a holiday flavor, Thank you for this giveaway. Hope that you have some great holiday fun!

  12. I really enjoy and appreciate authors who have series that keep me coming back for me. Kind of like company coming to visit! Thanks for the giveaway and happy holidays!

  13. What more could you ask for – a great read, food (okay, recipes), and a giveaway!!

  14. B&N’s holiday mystery pick – mine, too!


  15. Have all her books. Great series. Would love this new one.

  16. Brew to Kill was very well written. I enjoy the culinary mysteries as a rule. There is a lot happening behind the scenes. I had intended to read some holiday stories this month, but not quite yet. Please sign me up for Holiday Buzz. Thanks. judydee22002@yahoo dot com

  17. This is a new author for me but it sounds like such a fun read. Thanks for the contest!


  18. I love mysteries especially when there is coffee involved and I would love to read “Holiday Buzz”.

  19. Forgot my email address.

  20. The recipes in this series are all so tempting—I guess I’ll have to go off my diet when I read Holiday Buzz. Thanks for the contest.

  21. I have heard so many good things about this series!

  22. Even though I am not a coffee drinker I love this series. Keep up the good work and thank you for the chance to win

  23. What great bounty – recipes, coffee talk, NYC coffee mug and a lovely book! Thanks for the excerpt. Tantalizing!
    ncroessner (@)

  24. Carol Kuettner

    good series

  25. This book sounds wonderful. As a former new yorker the mug would be a perfect. Holiday

  26. Love the title. Thank you for hosting this giveaway.


  27. I really like this series, the coffee info and the recipes.

  28. Michelle Fidler

    What a great gift! Coffee and mysteries go good together. I have some of your books.


  29. Coffeehouse Mysteries is one of my favorite series!

  30. Amy Connolley

    I love this series. Brings me back to where I grew up. I feel like I am back in NYC with the sights and sounds and the holiday decorations. And also all the snow that I miss.

  31. My DH gave me 2 of the coffehouse mysteries for my birthday this year. I loved them!!!

  32. Another great book from a great author. Can’t wait to read it. Thanks


  33. I just don’t think there’s a way for murder to be merry and bright….

  34. Can’t wait to read this!

  35. Love the whole series. Hope Joy and or Clare get married in the next book. I need to reread the series and when I do that the coffee mug would come in very handy. Nancy

  36. Reading Cleo’s books is like sitting down with a good friend and catching up over coffee (and maybe a muffin).

  37. I am Soooooo glad my copy finally came in and i get to pick it up tomorrow! I really wish you guys would do a signing here in the south. I have 12 books that need signed lol!

  38. I love this series and can’t wait to read the newest one.

  39. Love this series!! Keep them coming =)

  40. This is such a fun series. That excerpt is just a tease! I can’t wait for more!Thanks for the contest.


  41. Ohmydeargoodness! A wicked sweet giveaway from a lovely author who gives us such a delightful reading adventure each time a ‘new’ coffeehouse mystery comes to life! I am over the moon in happiness with this series! Thank you for offering such a wonderful giveaway in time for Christmas! It would feel like Christmas morning if I won!

  42. I am thinking Santa might be bringing this for me!!

  43. Adore Cleo’s books! Can’t wait to get my hands on this one!! Would LOVE to win a signed copy (and coffee mug)!! Can’t get enough!!

  44. You are all so generous….writing wonderful books and great reviews and then giving away special treasures. Thanks! I’ve asked for Holiday Buzz for Christmas! Happy holidays to you all. Adrienne in MN

  45. My husband and I LOVE this series and drinking coffee together! We can’t wait to read this book. Thanks.
    your1chef at aol dot com

  46. Just finished Holiday Buzz and as usual it was great, cannot wait for the next one to come out. Would love to have a signed copy of Holiday Buzz!!!!

  47. I love this series and I just introduced a co-worker to the series as well. She just sent me an email thanking me for recommending such a great read!

    bevarcher at me dot com

  48. i love all her books they are great reading

  49. I love this series and would be thrilled to win a copy!

  50. The great thing about this series is how you can take the coffeehouse experience with you by making the recipes involved. Love the characters!

  51. Your Coffeehouse series has given me a whole new outlook on coffee! Thanks so much for the tips and yummy recipes!!

  52. I love all of Clare’s coffeehouse mysteries. And have tried many of her recipes too. Looking forward to reading her latest adventure with a cup of coffee curled up in front of the fireplace. Winning the coffee mug and signed book would be so special!!

  53. Intriguing mystery and delicious recipes. Merry Christmas 🙂

  54. I love this series…. great sleuthing and great recipes. The only thing that would make it better is if you could write twice as fast 🙂

  55. Katherine Schafer

    I have to laugh at myself. I’m sitting here in my nice warm home reading the excerpt above and actually shivering with the description of that blast of cold wind just before she finds the body…. then shiver again because its so creepy finding the body. I love stories, especially ones that make me shiver. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  56. I give each of my children a book for Christmas and would love to give my daughter the latest in one of her favorite series


  57. Absolutely love the series – and am so sad because I am caught up!! Need more books! 🙂

  58. Brenda Freitas-Obregon

    All I want for Christmas is the latest coffeehouse mystery…please Santa! Mahalo for the op to win.