When Krissy Hancock and her best friend Vicki decide to open a bookstore café in their new town of Pine Hills, they decide to call it "Death by Coffee," after Krissy’s father’s most famous mystery novel. Little do they know how well the name fits…
On their very first day of business, Brendon Lawyer huffily takes his coffee…to the grave. It seems he had a severe allergy to peanuts…but how could there have been nuts in his coffee? And who stole his emergency allergy medication?
Fortunately, Krissy’s love of puzzles and mysteries leads her not only to Officer Paul Dalton, but also to many of her new neighbors, who aren’t terribly upset that the book is closed on Brendon. But one of them is a killer, and Krissy needs to read between the lies if she wants to save her new store—and live to see how this story ends…
My Thoughts :
I love a good cozy and the cover looked cute and the blurb sounded interesting so I decided to give this one a go. Within a couple of pages I decided I could get to like Krissy, after all she is a cat lover. However after a few chapters I was starting to see the cracks and knew my relationship with her was going to be a bumpy one. As the story continued I was having a definite love/hate problem with the whole book.
There are lots of things to like about this debut. There is coffee, books and cats. The various characters, while not well developed, are nice enough and with some more work they could be a set of people I would like to read about. The location is hardly appealing but then again the writer didn't really sell Pine Hills our give it much of a write up. I couldn't tell you how big the place is supposed to be or if it is quaint or not. I just know it has some shops with weird names...or so the writer points out.
The general concept is a good one. A cafe/bookstore isn't anything new in the cozy mystery genre but it is one that works well and has a lot of appeal. I didn't find myself comparing Death by Coffee with any of the other similar books out there so this is a plus point. The murder mystery plot was fair but enough to keep me reading. I didn't really feel very invested in finding out who killed Brendon Lawyer, who isn't a lawyer, but I was curious to see what the author did with the story.
Some light in the story was Krissy and her police officer. Their first date was funny and it was nice to see them being all awkward and everything. This was one of the reasons I wanted to keep reading. Krissy was more likable when dating and spending time with Paul. Also her neighbour offered some light entertainment but both these characters didn't get a big enough part for my liking.
So with the likable aspects out of the way I will now delve into the things that annoyed me or what some may call nit-picking. The worst thing about this book was the time line. Krissy has just arrived in town as Death by Coffee opens and she acts as if the place has been open for months. The constant moaning about not having customers and that the place will fail was really pathetic. Especially when she kept running off in her first week to try and solve a murder that technically had nothing to do with her.
Death by Coffee sounds like a lovely place but why would a part owner who has invested so much of her money into the place only arrived as it opens? Why haven't the owners spent some time advertising the place? Doing special offers to get customers in the doors? Or think about offering free Internet access before opening the business? Why does Krissy think about decorating the place? It has only been open a couple of days and didn't they do any work on it before opening? Or was the place conveniently set up as a bookstore/cafe? This combined with the flaky attitude of Krissy made me wonder how the reader should believe she can solve a murder. She can't even run a business!
Oh and the how and why of Krissy getting involved with the murder investigation was extremely poor. She wasn't even a real suspect. Nobody was. She just kept poking and poking and spending all her time on that non crime instead of her brand new shiny business that she kept saying was failing but kept running away from each chance she got. Pestering people she has never met before is obviously how Krissy likes to make friends when she has only been in town for one day! Oh and what was even worse is that they actually gave her information! I wish 'I just wanted to talk' worked for everyone investigating a crime because it is obviously a magic spell.
Lastly, why the rivalry from the local diner? Sure it would make for good reading but Death by Coffee is a cafe selling drinks, a couple of cookies and books. They aren't selling food like the diner. There is no way that this place is going to hurt them unless they suddenly get a kitchen and cook. It was an element of the story that was over the top and a waste of time.
In conclusion I have to say that there was a lot of things wrong with this debut but it somehow managed to keep me reading till the end. Despite not completely understanding why Krissy gets so involved the murder mystery was interesting enough but it ended in a logical manner although there was a slight twist.
If I come across a second in the series then I would definitely give it a go. I am intrigued to see where the author takes the story and if she manages to offer some more depth to the characters and concept. It will also be interesting to see how Krissy manages to keep her business going, how her relationships fair and how she will get involved in another mystery.