Amateur sleuth Clare Cosi investigates the murder of a Santa who gave her a tip on how to rev up coffee sales.
The cops write off the shooting of charity Santa Alfred Glockner on the chilly streets of lower Manhattan as a mugging gone wrong. His daughter, claiming he owed big bucks to their tough next-door neighbor, begs Clare to investigate. Since the Village Blend manager and barista profited from Alf’s advice about creating holiday lattes, she feels obligated. Clare’s boyfriend, NYPD detective Mike Quinn, has no time to help; he’s immersed in his own case and may be hiding other problems. The cop on Alf’s case, who has an odd reputation, ignores Clare until she turns up some possible suspects, one of whom pushes her off the Staten Island ferry. Emerging from the waters, she assesses divorce, double dealing and drugs as potential motives in this complicated case. Though her former husband is afraid she’ll be killed, stubborn Clare soldiers on until she and daughter Joy, home for the holidays, become the killer’s next target.
Coyle’s coffeehouse mysteries (Espresso Shot, 2008, etc.) are packed with believable characters and topped with serious coffee lore and holiday recipes. This one will keep your cup piping hot.