“If you’re a sucker for all things Christmas, this book is for you.”
Tension is one of the key elements of a mystery. And the Christmas season certainly has plenty of tension, so it’s an ideal time to set a crime novel, provided of course everything is wrapped up by December 25th—and the ticking clock is a time honored tradition of creating tension.
Clare Cosi runs The Village Blend, a coffee house in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. She lives above the store—so convenient when she needs an espresso first thing in the morning. Her baristas have been with her for a long time, and the friendly atmosphere and the ability to remember the regulars’ orders is the reason people turn in here instead of going to a chain. The Blend goes all out for Christmas, from the flickering firelight in the fireplace to Secret Santas.
This year Clare is in charge of the beverage service during the Great New York Cookie Swap held in Bryant Park. The charity event attracts lots of great chefs, hockey players and celebs, (if one can call the Real Housewives of Wherever celebs), and the Clare’s justly famous Sea-Salt Caramel Swirl Lattes are a big hit. They taste great with the jewel-candy-rimmed comb and gold pocket watch cookies her friend Janelle is selling.
Of course Janelle based her cookie selections on the O. Henry story “Gift of the Magi.” Another table has Little Match Girl Brandy Snaps: brown tubular cookies filled with brandy whip cream and candied cherries on the end.
During the event, Clare sees Moirin Fagan, a baker’s assistant she shares with Janelle, having an agitated conversation. Later Moirin turns up dead.
Detective Fletcher Endicott, who writes crime novels and believes DNA can solve anything, gets the case. Neither Clare's boyfriend, NYPD detective Mike Quinn, currently based in Washington, DC, nor Blend regulars Lori Soles and Sue Ellen Bass (“the Fish Squad”) is in charge of this case, so Clare has to convince Endicott she can help.
More tension comes from a blizzard, and the “The Christmas Stalker” who seems to be targeting people when as they leave The Village Blend.
It has become popular to include recipes in cozy mysteries. Gumdrop Spritzers, Gingerbread Crackle cookies, Frozen Eggnog Latte, and Brigadieros (Brazilian chocolate truffles) all make it into this book—giving us a great excuse to get into the kitchen.
The food, the snow, and the likeable character are as delightful as Nat King Cole crooning “The Christmas Song.” If you’re a sucker for all things Christmas, this book is for you.