Decaffeinated Corpse by Cleo Coyle

The fifth series in Coyle’s enjoyable Coffee House series sees a return from the Hamptons to the lower East side. Manager Clare Cosi is back and trying to ramp up to the world wide introduction of a botanically decaf coffee bean. While I certainly don’t drink decaf, I have enough friends for whom caffeine is an evil and I can understand their desire to continue enjoying a strong cup of Joe. Considering some of the weak and yukky regular “coffee” I’ve had from time to time, at least with a strong cup of decaf I’d get the psychological pick me up.

The story moves comfortably through the week prior to international release of this bean. There is assault, men cheating on women, women cheating on men, two people murdered, and a little fraud in the middle of everything else. An old friend of Clare’s ex-husband has created the wonder plant, but his ambitions, sleeping around, and muddy political family history leads to lots of drama. Clare’s detective friend Mike Quinn is back on the scene, though without her usual friendly neighborhood patrol, and her flavorful and interesting baristas always keep things sarcastic. Drop in a little dose of the coffeehouse owner, Madame, and you have a cozy book for a rainy afternoon.

This was better than Coyle’s last, Murder Most Frothy, nearly had me give up on the series. What probably keeps me coming back most strongly is Coyle’s spot on descriptions of Manhattan. Having worked there, particularly in the Chelsea area, Coyle describes the buildings, people, traffic and mood in such a realistic fashion that I’m transported easily back to 14th and 8th, sipping a latte in my own favorite spot. I much preferred being in Manhattan than out in the Hamptons–it was just too glorified. Also, Coyle didn’t have Clare fall into bed with yet another man. Even with one of them being her ex-husband, it bothered me that every book there was someone else for pillow time.

She’s got another one coming out in 2008 and I’ll probably get it through my library. Fun and light reading if you enjoy descriptions of Manhattan.