A coffeehouse manager gets a crash course in the rules of the new dating game.
As she seeks an affordable venue for her wedding to NYPD detective Mike Quinn, Clare Cosi must juggle her duties as manager of the vastly popular Village Blend. Still on good terms with her handsome, charming ex-husband, Matteo Allegro, she’s surprised as they chat to see him using the dating app Cinder, where he’s apparently hooking up with plenty of women. Suddenly shots ring out, turning Clare’s life upside-down. Upstairs, a young woman is threatening a man she met on Cinder who treated her badly. Clare manages to get the gun, that turns out to be loaded with blanks, away from the woman before the cops arrive. But the videos patrons took quickly go viral and ruin her business. As it turns out, the threatened man, who identifies himself as Richard Crest, has quite a reputation for playing nasty games with his hookups. Later that night, Clare gets a call for help from Madame, her tipsy former mother-in-law and owner of the Village Blend, who asks Clare to join her at a trendy riverfront restaurant. On her way out, Clare discovers a dead woman floating in the river. Worse yet, Clare recognizes her as a Village Blend customer. Clare’s reluctant agreement to go along with the Cinder founder’s plan to revive both her brand and Cinder’s brings her into contact with many more people involved in the lucrative world of dating apps. With plenty of time on her hands, Clare, who has quite the reputation as a sleuth (Dead Cold Brew, 2017, etc.), decides to investigate the elusive Crest and the online dating scene by setting up her own Cinder account to lure Crest into a meeting—a plan that quickly becomes hazardous to her own health.
A complicated murder mystery with some penetrating insights into the treacherous world of dating apps and throwaway relationships.