Holiday Buzz: A Coffeehouse Mystery by Cleo Coyle, Berkley Prime Crime (a division of Penguin Group), $7.99 list price, paperback
From the publisher:
Holiday time is party time in New York City, but after a sparkling winter bash ends with a murder, Village Blend coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi vows to put the killer on ice.
At the Great New York Cookie Swap, pastry chefs bake up their very best for charity. Clare is in charge of the beverage service, and her famous Fa-la-la-la Lattes make the gathering even merrier. But her high spirits come crashing down to earth, when she discovers the battered body of a hard-working baker’s assistant.
Police suspect a serial attacker whose escalating crimes have become known as “The Christmas Stalkings.” Clare’s boyfriend, NYPD detective Mike Quinn, finds reason to believe even more sinister forces are involved. Clare isn’t so sure—and when she finds a second bludgeoned baker, she becomes a target. Now Clare is spending the holiday season pouring over clues, and she’s not going to rest until justice is served.
When Clare discovers the murdered body of a baker's assistant who also worked for her part time at the coffee shop, she vows to find the killer but her search is thwarted by a narcissistic police chief who has already decided on a suspect and won't listen to reason. To complicate matters, as Clare uncovers the troubled past of the murdered employee the list of motives and suspects grows. When a second baker is attacked, Clare finds herself a target as well as she gets closer to discovering the murderer's identity.
I'm a fan of the coffeehouse mystery series featuring Village Blend manager Clare Cosi and enjoyed this latest installment with its holiday theme. The recipes included at the end of the book are a nice addition as well. This cozy mystery was easy to read (I read it over one weekend) while maintaining enough suspense to keep it interesting to the end. Although it always helps to have read previous titles in a series like this, Holiday Buzz can stand alone for those who haven't.