12:01 AM: I am fast asleep. Dreaming of NYPD Detective Mike Quinn. . .
3:07 AM: Romantic dreams turn to nightmares as two ships collide in the night. Trapped inside a stateroom, I feel cold water flowing around my ankles, my knees, my chin—Help! I wake cursing my ex-husband, who roped me into the crazy idea of creating a special coffee blend for the rebooted version of a sunken ocean liner. Note to self, do not watch documentaries about the SS Andrea Doria before bedtime!
4:50 AM: Did I hear gunshots?! I peer out my bedroom window and see partying teenagers on a nearby roof, setting off firecrackers. I swear, something has to be done about that abandoned building! After phoning the 6th Precinct, I pull the covers over my head.
5:45 AM: Ignoring the sheet on my face, Java and Frothy take turns kneading my cranium with their paws, cat-speak for “Breakfast! Now!” Off to the kitchen where the popping of metal cans and fishy smells bring back my nautical nightmare.
6:30 AM: I stumble downstairs to open the Village Blend and accept the bakery delivery. As I down an espresso, I ponder my first managerial decision of the day: Oatmeal Cookie Muffin or Chocolate Ricotta Muffin? Decision made, I’ll eat both.
7:30 AM: My day shift arrives: slam poetess Esther appears alert enough, while her roommate Nancy looks groggy. It seems Esther was up late composing her “coffee-themed” poetry and performing it loudly. To avoid mistakes—and possible bankruptcy—I put performance artist Esther on the register and sleepy Nancy on pastry fulfillment.
9:15 AM: NYPD Detectives Lori Soles and Sue Ellen Bass (a.k.a. “The Fish Squad”) drop by to ask me about the disturbance at the abandoned building. They take away my statement, two large Breakfast Blends, and six Cannoli Cream Cupcakes.
11:20 AM: My ex-husband, Matt Allegro, our globetrotting coffee buyer, drops in with supplies from his warehouse. “Something funny is going on,” his mother texts me. Matt’s mother is Mrs. Dreyfus Allegro Dubois (a.k.a. “Madame”) eccentric but beloved fixture of Greenwich Village and owner of the Village Blend. “Why is Matt spending so much time alone in that Red Hook warehouse,” she asks, “when he has a luxury apartment and a beautiful wife on Manhattan’s East Side?” A mystery? Sure. But not one I’m not eager to solve. My ex and I may be partners in running this shop, but his current, obnoxiously haughty wife is his business!
12:30 PM: In a parade of spandex, muscle-bound men in tights arrive along with my assistant manager Tucker, who moonlights as an actor and director. Tuck is holding a casting call on our second floor for a charity stage show featuring the “world’s greatest superheroes.” Repeated thumps above my head suggest the simulated flights are going well.
1:40 PM: I notice my boyfriend, Detective Lieutenant Mike Quinn, at a corner table, speaking privately with Matt’s mother. Now what could those two be whispering about?
2:00 PM: Madame departs and Quinn approaches the coffee bar. I grill him over a latte and two slices of my special Pumpkin Bread. He claims they were discussing his past work in Washington. (But later, Madame pretends they were talking about a fundraiser for the Police Athletic League.) These two are hiding something. But what?! Before I can press Quinn—
2:15 PM: Sergeant Franco rushes in: “Let’s go, Lieutenant, a pair of uniforms just broke up a cat fight between two pop star divas at Campana Jewelers!” I frown at Franco: “Why is that the OD Squad’s problem?” Franco grins: “During the brawl, enough prescription drugs flew out of their designer handbags to start a pharmacy.” Quinn blows me a kiss and follows Franco out the door.
3:00 PM: Nancy has disappeared! When I question Esther, she points to the ceiling. “The cape crusaders ordered cappuccinos.” I check the clock. “That was over an hour ago. Why is she still up there?” Esther smirks. “Contrary to the laws of physics, she’s attempting to pick up Superman.”
4:30 PM: The Fish Squad stops by to show me the photo of an empty Village Blend cup, found near a crime scene. They believe the perp dropped it after being served. Leaving management duties to Tuck, I follow Soles and Bass to the precinct to look at mug shots.
7:30 PM: Quinn calls, too busy with a bust to join me for dinner. Sends wishes for sweet dreams.
8:15: PM: Matt drops in, eats the rustic Chicken Cacciatorre I made for my boyfriend, and shows me yet another video on the SS Andrea Doria. He thinks it will inspire me to create that special coffee blend—the one that will land us a contract for the new version of the sunken ship. But I’m starting to get a bad feeling about this.
10:00 PM: I hit the sack early, exhausted from last night’s lack of sleep. Closing my eyes, I hear waves crashing then ear-shattering screams and the rending of metal. I’m trapped inside a stateroom with dark, cold, water rushing in. . .
Dead Cold Brew by Cleo Coyle is the 16th book in the “Coffeehouse Mystery” series. Publisher: Penguin Random House, January 2017
Free Recipe Guide: Click here for Cleo’s illustrated guide to her new culinary mystery.
Free Title Checklist of Books in Order: Click here for a free checklist of Coffeehouse Mystery titles with mini summaries of all 16 books in the bestselling series and links to more of Cleo’s Free Recipe Guides.
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GIVEAWAY (US residents only): Cleo’s Prize Package includes an autographed copy of her beautiful new hardcover Dead Cold Brew, a set of autographed glossy recipe cards; a large, durable, canvas tote bag featuring one of Madame’s favorite sayings: “Survive everything. And do it with style,” and a pound of premium “Billionaire’s Blend” coffee from One Good Woman Coffee and Tea Co., created in honor of Cleo’s 13th Coffeehouse Mystery: Billionaire Blend. Leave a comment below for your chance to win these goodies. Giveaway ends January 23, 2017. Good luck everyone!
About the author
CLEO COYLE is a pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini. Both are New York Times bestselling authors of the Coffeehouse Mysteries, now celebrating over ten years in print. Alice has worked as a journalist in Washington, D.C., and New York City, and has written popular fiction for adults and children. A former magazine editor, Marc has authored espionage thrillers and nonfiction for adults and children. Alice and Marc are also bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for Lucasfilm, NBC, Fox, Disney, Imagine, and MGM. They live and work in New York City, where they write independently and together, including the national bestselling Haunted Bookshop Mysteries. Visit their website at www.coffeehousemystery.com. You can also friend Cleo on Facebook or follow on Twitter.
All comments are welcomed.