When Village Blend manager and head barista Clare Cosi finds a red-suited body in the snow, she adds solving Santa's slaying to her coffeehouse menu.
Clare's grown very fond of Alfred Glockner, the part-time comic and genuinely jolly charity Santa who's been using her coffeehouse as a place to warm his mittens. When she finds him gunned down in a nearby alley, a few subtle clues convince her that Alfred's death was something more than the tragic result of a random mugging -- the conclusion of the police.
With Clare's boyfriend, NYPD detective Mike Quinn, distracted by a cold case of his own, and ex-husband Matt "investigating" this year's holiday lingerie catalogs (an annual event), Clare charges ahead solo and discovers this Santa had a list that he was checking twice -- and the folks on it were not very nice. Then someone tries to ice Clare, and she really gets steamed...
This is a fun series. You can always count on Clare to get herself into trouble while piecing together who-done-it. This installment also includes around 80 pages of recipes and coffee facts. Things get a bit rocky for Clare and Quinn, and her ex, Matt, seems to be the one coming to her rescue every time she's in a fix. Clare's ex-mother-in-law, Madame, is force to be reckoned with, and always has something up her sleeve and connections to everyone. She is always so tickled to get involved in helping Clare investigate! The coffee house setting makes me wish I had a Village Blend nearby and coffee trade facts that are included are interesting, fleshing out the theme, and making it more immersive than just knowing it is the setting. I really wish some of the Fa-la-la-la Latte flavors they came up with were real!