“Once Upon a Grind” is the fourteenth book in the Coffeehouse Mystery series by Cleo Coyle. New York Times Bestselling author Cleo Coyle is a pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi and her husband Marc Cerasini who jointly write this series, which is set in New York City, where the authors live.
Cleo Coyle writes, “This entry is special to us because “Once Upon a Grind” is more than a murder mystery. It’s also a novel about the magic and power of story, which is why we chose the most basic and beloved stories of our culture, fairy tales, to serve as our motif. She further states, “Many of us go through our daily lives casting people we encounter in ongoing dramas: one woman is a peasant, another a princess; one man is a prince and another a predator. We cast ourselves in these stories, too, which is the fundamental key to unlocking their power. For only when we see the truths and falsehoods of the tales we tell ourselves (and others tell about us) are we able to reshape the thing that shapes our lives.”
As the story opens, New York City is celebrating their inaugural Storybook Kingdom, a weekend festival celebrating the Brothers Grimm, Mother Goose and classic literary characters beloved by children. Village Blend, the coffeehouse that Claire Cosi manages is employing the Jack and the Beanstalk theme for the selling their coffee. Matteo, Claire’s ex-husband, has contributed “magic” coffee beans he has sourced from a remote village in Africa. To entice visitors, the coffee house owner is reading coffee grinds. However, this magic coffee seems to give Claire visions.
When a princess is missing, Claire’s visions helps her and Matteo find the princess, who is alive, but asleep. The police believe this “Sleeping Beauty” is the victim of a drug overdose who isn’t waking up and are blaming Matt.
As a result, Claire investigates to exonerate Matteo and find the real culprit. Her research includes a New York Giant, a Wolf of Wall Street and the Prince Charming Club.
The appendix includes a Guide to Tasseography, the art of seeing the future through coffee grinds. There are also thirty-three pages of wickedly delicious recipes.
I love the Coffeehouse Mystery series and each time I read a new entry I swear it is the best book in the series. “Once Upon a Grind” is no exception, not only is it a delightful mystery, it is fun to find the fairy tale motif throughout the story. It is also interesting to find out how our initial perception of these characters, turn out to be different.
If you love either the stage or film version of “Into the Woods” this is the book for you.
Five stars out of five.
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In accordance with FTC guidelines for reviewers, I would like to clarify that this book was provided to me by the publisher free of charge. I am not compensated by the author or publisher for my review. All they expect is an honest review of the work.