Book Review: Murder Most Frothy by Cleo Coyle

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU DON’T MIND SPOILERS OR YOU HAVE ALREADY READ THE BOOK.

The book I’m reviewing this time, Murder Most Frothy by Cleo Coyle, is incredibly similar in some ways to the a previous book I reviewed, Cinnamon Roll Murder by Joanne Fluke, due to the fact that the main characters serve in the food industry (Cinnamon Roll Murder’s Hannah Swensen being a baker while Murder Most Frothy’s Claire Cosi is a manager of a coffehouse). Here’s a summary for Murder Most Frothy, which is the fourth book in Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse Mysteries series:

“Clare Cosi’s new friend, millionaire David Mintzer, has an offer no New York barista could turn down: an all-expenses-paid summer away from the sticky city. At his Hamptons mansion, she’ll relax, soak up the sun, and, oh yes, train the staff of his new restaurant. So Clare packs up her daughter, her former mother-in-law, and her special recipe for iced coffee—for what she hopes will be one de-latte-ful summer…Soon, Clare tends the coffee bar at her first Hamptons gala. But the festivities come to a bitter end when an employee turns up dead in David’s bathroom—a botched attempt on the millionaire’s life. Thanks to the Fourth of July fireworks no one heard any gunshots, and the police are stuck in holiday traffic. Concerned for everyone’s safety, Clare begins to investigate. What she finds will keep her up at night—and it’s not the java jitters….”

I can immediately see some similarities between Cinnamon Roll Murder and Murder Most Frothy. The main characters (Hannah Swensen in Cinnamon Roll Murder and Clare Cosi in Murder Most Frothy) are both female and work in the food industry in some way, as I pointed out earlier. They’re also both adult women at that, in their thirties or forties. And, of course, they both go and solve mysteries—in this case, murder mysteries. However, there are obvious differences between the two. For example, Clare Cosi is older than Hannah, AND she has a nineteen-year-old daughter named Joy AND an ex-husband named Matteo AND she also has an ex-mother-in-law trying to get Clare and Matteo back together.

For the book itself, there were three things I liked.

1. ACTUAL REALISTIC REACTIONS TO THE MURDER (the lack of it I remember complaining about in my Cinnamon Roll Murder book review).  Some people were sobbing uncontrollably, others were stone-faced and trying to stay strong, and others were just dumbstruck as if they wanted to say “How the heck did this happen!?” and I felt that was WAY more realistic in terms of finding out that someone just got killed.

2. The whole main plotline—except for one thing. I liked how Clare went into investigating the entire murder case, as she’s concerned for her friend David and doesn’t want him to get killed by the murderer next. BUT she could have told all the information she found out to the police and let them handle all the scary situations. Kudos to Clare, though, for getting her daughter out of a scary situation involving some tampered cocaine so that she would be okay BEFORE calling the police.

3. THEY PUT IN THE RECIPES AT THE END OF THE BOOK RATHER THAN AFTER EVERY SINGLE CHAPTER. I complained about this a LOT when reviewing Cinnamon Roll Murder because I felt that it ruined the flow of the plotline, but Murder Most Frothy stuck its recipes right at the end of the book so the flow of the book while reading was not disturbed, and that was good.

For characters, well…

1. David, Clare’s friend, is being stupid. I mean, he’s nice and all, but also stupid. Stupid in the sense that a guy that looks absolutely similar to him just got killed in his own bathroom and yet David doesn’t believe at all that he was the murderer’s true target. And claiming that he has no enemies? Seriously! SOMEONE SUED YOU DAVID BECAUSE YOU RUINED THEIR OCEAN VIEW WITH YOUR GIANT OLD TREES IN YOUR YARD AND YOU DON’T CONSIDER THEM AN ENEMY!? That’s…really bold. And very stupid in my opinion. And then after Clare collects more evidence, David STILL denies that he could ever be a target for murder.

2. Joy acts like your stereotypical teenaged daughter, being rebellious and the like. I’m serious. There is nothing redeeming about her, even when she tries to apologize for her wrongdoing. She takes Clare’s advice and guidance for granted and she goes off and does what she wants without really thinking about any of the consequences. There is even a part in the beginning of the book where she got some older man’s phone number and she probably would have called him had Clare not ripped up the phone number and tossed it in the trash and then end up in worse trouble than she already did in the book.

3. Clare is a hypocrite. She tells her daughter Joy to be careful with situations like meeting boys she barely knows and hooking up with them. And then by the end of the book Clare herself hooks up with someone she barely knows! Clare even tries to get other people out of danger (like her ex-mother-in-law and Joy) but doesn’t even think for a moment about her own safety when investigating the case. I mean, I understand that there is some danger involved when investigating a case, but Clare took it WAY too far when she could have easily just asked the police or any other investigators in the city to do the work. That way it wouldn’t take so long for her to figure out everything by herself and therefore the police would get the idea of what was really going on and actually believe her whenever she’s trying to talk to them about something she found because they would be working together, not working seperately and against each other (to the point that Clare could have almost gotten arrested for investigating by herself)!

4. There are way too many characters and too many situations to understand all at once in the book. You have employees of David that get into all sorts of squabbles with each other all for a variety of reasons and then you also have neighbours of David that hold some kind of grudge against him, and then you also have Clare’s family issues with her ex-mother-in-law, daughter, and even her ex-husband! And there are too many minor characters and minor situations to count. I feel like that this would be easier to read if there were less minor characters and a clearer explanation for all the situations going on between the more main characters.

As for the side plotline of the tension between Clare and her family, I felt that it was overdone. Clare and Matteo’s tension felt like it came from a really bad romance movie where divorced romantic partners don’t get back together despite every attempt possible. Clare acted immature around Matteo (who was immature anyway towards her) when she could obviously be more mature like when she was trying to help her daughter Joy and it was obvious that any romantic tension that was trying to be built together wasn’t really convincing to me. As for the tension with Clare and her daughter Joy, it was a typical mother-daughter-fighting-all-the-time scenario, which has also been done in other fiction before, and this one was really not well done. And then for Clare and Madame (her ex-mother-in-law), the tension between them didn’t really work. It felt uneven and jagged as Madame tried to get Clare into the whole ‘summer fling’ concept and Clare obviously wasn’t going to go with it, as well as the fact that Madame also tried to get Clare and Matteo while it’s obvious that Madame would be better off accepting the fact that Clare does NOT want to be Matteo and respect her wishes instead of riding her on about it all the time.

Overall, I have to give this 2.5 out of 5 stars just because of all the issues I had with the characters and the situations going on between them. They all felt out of place, or not well written, and I think that this is the major thing that pulled the score of this book down to 2.5.

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