Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Grind by Cleo Coyle

Finally!  A Christmas mystery story that actually has to do with Christmas. 

Cleo Coyle's Holiday Grind coffee house mystery ends up centering around a passage from Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

At the close of the book, Coyle sites a passage from the classic Dickens story.  Scrooge looks out on the miserable spirits of the unhappy misers who spent their lives in selfishness.  About those spirits,  Dickens writes: "The misery with them all was that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power forever. . . ."   Now that they were in a situation where they understood that the most powerful force in life is love (as opposed to massive greed), they could not act on what they learned.

The Holiday Grind story  begins with a friend of Clare Cosi, owner of the Village Blend Coffee House, being killed.  As it turns out, Alf Glockner, the Santa who works for a local charity taking his sleigh around to solicit donations at Christmas, is not a perfect person.  But he is trying to reform his life as the Dickens story suggests he should.

The story in this book is complex.  Clare's boyfriend, a New York City cop, is working on his own case.  There are several murders, all of which come as a result of people seeking more and more money and fame.  

And Clarie is not immune from the violence. Murderers to kill her, not once, but twice.  The second time the murderer tries to kill Claire's daughter too.  

To blandly state the overall message in the story (as I have done),  makes the story seem too goody-goody.  In actuality, it has everything a good cozy reader could want--a unique setting (the coffee house and the surrounding New York City milieu), Clare's love interest and the ups and downs that involves, some humorous scenes, and a complex story which brings a closing surprise.  

And just to top it off, it has recipes and other interesting comments at the end.

This is a typical cozy, not always believable, but upbeat and the kind of story that keeps you guessing to the end. 

I'm glad I found it in this Christmas season.

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