Sunday, June 7, 2015

Death by Coffee by Alex Erickson | Blog Tour with Review and Giveaway

The Blurb

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…

Death by Coffee by Alex Erickson
Series: Bookstore Café Mystery #1
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: May 26, 2015
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-10: 1617737518
ISBN-13: 978-1617737510
E-Book File Size: 2463 KB
Amazon Barnes & Noble | IndieBoundGoodreads

The Review

Let me tell you a little about a cozy mystery I just read, Death by Coffee by Alex Erickson. 

Death by Coffee is a quick read with a lot of humorous moments. I was surprised by whodunit. The book cover is very appealing. What's not to love, with the cat, multitudes of books, and the promise of coffee!

I really like Author Alex Erickson's concept of the bookstore café. While the world-building to create  the Bookstore Café is done very well — detailed enough that I can picture it, but not too wordy — the town of Pine Hills is a little barren. In future books, the world-building for Pine Hills itself could be improved upon by including more details.   

The characters, even the main characters Krissy Hancock and Vicki Patterson, are rather flat. The roundest character is the victim, Brendon Lawyer. The reader knows more about Brendon than anyone else, even about Krissy herself, because of Krissy's quest to solve his murder. The reader has a little more info about Vicki, only because Krissy the narrator keeps thinking about how gorgeous Vicki is, in comparison to herself. If Vicki's personality and description were expanded upon, and Krissy's whining and interfering were decreased, I could connect with them better in future books. 

Krissy is a trifle wishy-washy at times, especially about the topic of peanuts in Brendon's coffee. There are at least four different times throughout the book when she states, to herself or others, that there are no peanuts in the coffee at her shop. She has checked and double-checked the labels to verify. There are at least seven other instances, however, when Krissy has obsessed and agonized over the possibility that she is responsible for the presence of the fatal peanut dust in the coffee. Her obsession was starting to annoy me; perhaps other readers would only see the humor in it.

One of my pet peeves in cozy mysteries is when the reader is given implausible reasons for why the sleuths sleuth. I felt that Krissy's reasons for her investigations are quite flimsy, and  took off a Kitty from the rating because of this. If this is not something that bothers you, then add the Kitty back.
  • In Death by Coffee, the reader knows that Krissy is "intrigued" by mysteries, and they "got me into a lot of trouble in my youth. I'd see mysteries in everything and would often insist on trying to solve them whether they needed solving or not." 
  • While Krissy was in school, her meddling created an incident involving two staff members, and earned her two scoldings (from principal and parents) for butting in. "Still, the error didn't stop me from continually sticking my nose where it didn't belong. Even now, I couldn't help myself."
  • So, Krissy has a compulsion to ask total strangers detective-style questions, often in public. Why? Just because she's intrigued by mysteries and can't help herself. What's worse, she's rewarded for her prying because these total strangers actually answer her highly inappropriate questions, questions that should be coming from actual police officers. 
  • Krissy admits that she is "asking questions about a case I really had no right investigating." 
  • Krissy even interferes when a police officer rescues her SPOILER.

The final chapter of Death by Coffee neatly ties together all the loose plot threads. The remaining Hows and Whys of the murder are explained. Several lingering problems get resolved. The last sentence is a nice plug for the next book in the series!

To sum it up, Author Alex Erickson has made a good start to his Bookstore Café Mystery series with his debut novel, Death by Coffee, available now. The second book in the series, Death by Tea, is available for pre-order from Amazon and will be released on November 24, 2015.

Three out of five kitties

Note:  I received a complimentary copy of Death by Coffee from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 
All opinions shared are 100% my own.

The Author

About Alex Erickson

Alex Erickson has always wanted to write, even at a young, impressionable age. He’s always had an interest in the motive behind murder, which has led him down his current path. He’s always ready with a witty — at least in his opinion — quip, and tries to keep every conversation light and friendly. 

Alex lives in Ohio with his family and resident felines, who provide endless amounts of inspiration.

The Giveaway

Alex will award one $25 Visa Gift Card 
and two print copies of Death by Coffee 
to three randomly drawn winners 
via rafflecopter during the tour.

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