Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Book Review: Death by Coffee by Alex Erickson (Bookstore Cafe Mysteries #1)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Krissy and the suspects, decent plot
Cons: Weak series characters and humor
The Bottom Line:
The premise sounds fun
But execution does not
Fulfill that promise

Who Puts Peanuts in Coffee?

When Death by Coffee crossed my path, I immediately knew I had to read it since the plot teaser sounded like it was right up my alley.  Sadly, it didn’t live up to its potential.

Looking to branch out on their own, best friends Krissy and Vickie have moved away from their Southern California home and opened a combined coffee shop and bookstore in Pine Hills.  Vickie even has the bright idea to name it after one of Krissy’s Dad’s bestselling books, Death by Coffee.  Unfortunately, business on their first morning is slow.  Painfully slow.  In fact, Brandon Lawyer is one of their few customers.  He gets his coffee in a to go cup, walks back to his insurance office across the street, and dies a few minutes later.

Naturally, the rumors start flying about their coffee, but Brandon actually dies from his peanut allergy, something that he definitely didn’t pick up from their shop.  Being raised by a mystery writer father has made Krissy naturally curious, and she begins to investigate, hoping to catch the killer.  Can she do it?

The plot was actually fairly decent.  Krissy might have rehashed what she’d learned a time or two, but it wasn’t that bad.  We could have used one more good suspect to add another twist or two to the story, but that’s a minor complaint.  The solution was logical and suspenseful.

My problem begins with the characters.  Vickie is fairly flat even though she’s obviously going to be a series regular.  The suspects fared better as did Krissy.  Yet other series regulars were as flat as Vickie.  And don’t get me started on Rita, a fan of Krissy’s father who is completely obnoxious.  Seriously, I was rooting for Rita to be killed.

Then there’s the humor that was advertised in the book.  Much of it is supposed to come from Krissy making a fool out of herself.  I’m still not a fan of embarrassment humor, so I found myself cringing more than laughing here.  When Krissy’s not making mistakes, she has her cat, Misfit, there to embarrass her.  Now, I know I’m not a cat person, but seriously, I would have gotten rid of that cat ages ago if I were Krissy.

It’s not that the book was bad, but it wasn’t truly good either.  I hate to give an average grade to a debut from a new author, but Death by Coffee truly earns it.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.


  1. I'm not much for embarrassment humor either. This does sound like it has potential but I'll pass on this one. Hopefully the next in the series is better.

    1. I'm thinking about giving the next in the series a try. We'll see how my TBR pile is when it comes out.