Friday, May 8, 2015

ROAST MORTEM by Cleo Coyle

 Publisher:    Berkley

Published:   August 2, 2011
ISBN:     978-0425242728
Genre:    Cozy Mystery
Format:  Hardback
Obtained via:  Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


With ex-husband Matt Allegro pretty much happily married to his new wife, Breanne, and content to be business partners with her, Clare Cosi is ready to settle down, relax and enjoy life.  She’s looking forward to running her coffee house, the Village Blend, spend time with her friends and more importantly, have start growing her relationship with her boyfriend detective, Mike Quinn.  She’s also looking forward to spending with her employer, who happens to be Matt’s mother, Madame.  When an old friend of Madame’s contacts her about an espresso machine that used to belong to the Blend, Clare heads out to Long Island with her employer to pick it up.  Traffic keeps the women from arriving on time but not to worry, it is an old friend and former employee, Enzo, who has the machine.  They arrive to be greeted by the very agitated daughter of the Long Island coffee shop.  After she leaves they are able to sit down, have a nice coffee and chat about old times.  But not for long…within moment of their settling in for a nice long chat a bomb explodes, setting Enzo’s coffee house on fire.  In the chaos that follows Clare is able to rescue a co-worker, Dante, who joined them, but is unable to rescue Madame and Enzo.  It is a firefighter, James, who rescues them, quickly becoming a hero in Clare’s eyes.  When another café goes up in flames, apparently in the same manner, Clare is unable to leave things be and go about her business.  This time, instead of Matt fighting Clare’s desire to investigate, he’s with her all the way.  After all, his mother could have died in that blaze.  And Mike is behind her getting involved as well—because he too has a personal stake in the outcome.

Can Clare find the arsonist before he finds her?

I’ve followed the husband and wife team of Cleo Coyle’s coffee house mysteries from the first book, ON WHAT GROUNDS initially because as a coffee drinker, how could I not?  I liked Clare from the beginning – while she may seem like a passive, go along to get along kind of gal, she’s got great spunk and determination.  Everyone is a friend unless and until they prove otherwise…then watch out.  Coyle has done a nice job of developing each character individually as well as with their interactions with each other.  Womanizing Matt has grown up in a sense, learning from his past mistakes and becoming a better person.  And Clare’s relationship with her detective boyfriend, Mike Quinn has progressed at a nice pace.  It wasn’t one of those overnight “I’m madly in love with you” situations, but a step by step learning to trust and care for each other.  And Mike coming to terms with Clare’s not only desire but need to investigate the different murders that end up on her doorstep is nicely developed.

ROAST MORTEM takes on a new element in Clare’s sleuthing when she tackles an arsonist who is also bent on destroying coffee houses and in the process killing fire fighters.  The shift to Mike and Matt, in a sense working together to protect Clare, rather than having them at each other’s throats is a nice change.  But the increasing romantic interest of Mike’s cousin, Michael Quinn re-sets a love triangle that isn’t really needed for this series.  Michael is a player, and while he’s annoying at times in his pursuit of Clare, there is an underlying reason that, once revealed, paints him as a more likeable character.  Going forward I’d like to see more focus on Clare’s detecting than another love triangle.

One thing I’ve found interesting about the series is in ON WHAT GROUNDS Mike Quinn comes across as a tough as nails detective.  He seems older, more mature as does Clare.  As the books have progressed Mike and Clare both seem to be becoming more attractive.  Mike now is a very buff and sexy blond with blue eyes and Clare is quite the hottie that it seems no man can resist.  Thing is, when I imagine Clare talking, she sounds more like Edith Bunker than a sexy siren.  Coyle did not have to sex up the couple to make them more likeable of the books better.  The original formula worked just fine. 

That said, I really do enjoy how Coyle intersperse coffee making and maintaining tips in with some yummy sounding dishes.  The recipes at the end are simple to make and after reading about Clare or another character making them it’s nice to know you can do so at home yourself.

The books in this series do not have to be read in order—there is enough of a backstory and stand alone story to each one.  For myself I prefer to read a series in order and in this case I’ve enjoyed how the characters have developed through each new book.  You’d miss that if you read them out of order.

This is an objective review and an endorsement of this book.

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