Cleo Coyle is the pen name for authors Alice Alfonsi and her husband Marc Cerasini, who write mysteries together. Under the name Cleo Coyle, the pair have sold over a million books worldwide and have made Coyle a New York Times bestselling author, with so many written works under his belt and this article will explore all Cleo Coycle books in order.
However, they are both authors in their own right. Alice was originally a children’s author, writing books that contributed to well-known favorites like Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, and That’s So Raven, which all became popular kid’s programs under TV associations like Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.
However, she also dips into contemporary fiction and has a background in journalism, so she brings a variety of skills and language uses to the table.
Whereas, Marc specializes in thrillers, war books, and military non-fiction. The two authors couldn’t be further apart in terms of genre and expertise, which is why the books that they have written together always stand out as genre-bending reads which contain equal amounts of light-hearted coziness and intriguing mystery.
The combined talents of both these authors have created some super interesting books. Cleo Coyle is most famous for the Coffeehouse Mysteries, which is set in Greenwich Village, predominantly in a cozy fictional coffeehouse.
If you’re a fan of the TV series Friends and you’re into mystery novels, these books are perfect. They’re reminiscent of Central Perk, but add heaps of intrigue.
The setting for these novels is close to the authors’ hearts. The two met in Manhattan and still live in New York City today, you can just imagine them writing these novels in a coffee shop similar to their own fictional setting!
Under this pen name, they have also written a series called the Haunted Bookshop mysteries, which although originally published under the pseudonym Alice Kimberly, was later published using the name Cleo Coyle.
This series is set in a cozy bookstore in Rhode Island but has a supernatural twist. The bookshop is home to the ghost of a private investigator who lived in the 1940s. The bookstore owner and this unexpected helper solve a bunch of crimes and mysteries together.
This series is a classic example of how Coyle’s writing breaks the boundaries of genre. The setting is simultaneously cozy and eerie and the ghostly presence creates a horror-like feel, but the books are ultimately grounded in mystery.
All of Coyle’s books provide a little bit of everything and both of these series are lengthy, so there’s plenty to sink your teeth into. If you’re a binge reader, these books will be ideal for you.
However, in order to binge these wonderful books, you’re going to need to know the order in which to read them. So, without further ado, here’s the Coffeehouse and Haunted Bookshop series in order.
These intriguing stories each provide a warm ambiance, which many readers seek in Coyle’s work. With witty titles, endearing characters, and enthralling mysteries, these books are the perfect choice for anyone looking to sit down and enjoy a hot drink and a read.
All Cleo Coyle Books in Order
On What Grounds (2003)
After some time away, Clare Cosi is back to help manage the cozy, warm, and historic Village Blend coffeehouse. Clare lives above the coffeehouse with her cute cat, Java, and has a bunch of new ideas for the cafe.
But then she finds her assistant manager unconscious out the back and coffee beans scattered across the floor. With no hesitation, Clare calls the police, who find no evidence of a third party and quickly close the case.
On What Grounds follows Clare as she uncovers more about the case without the help of detectives, determined to get to the bottom of it.
Through the Grinder (2004)
Clare has never been busier at the Village Blend coffeehouse, but something sinister is at play. Strangely her customers start dying under suspicious circumstances – one of her regulars dies jumping to her death in the subway just moments after leaving the coffeehouse.
Clare is convinced that someone has a vendetta, but how many people will fall victim to this mysterious force? And how will Clare begin looking? Through the Grinder is an engaging read with twists and turns around every corner.
Latte Trouble (2005)
A famous fashion designer, Lottie Harmon, is one of Clare’s regulars, and to Clare’s surprise, she has just dropped a new innovative line of coffee-related accessories. Looking for some inspiration, Lottie asks if she can use the Village Blend as the backdrop to promote her new line of jewelry.
While Lottie and her team take over the cafe, Tucker, a barista working there, serves a poisonous latte to a significant fashion figure. But Clare believes the latte was aimed at Lottie and now she must save her cafe and her regular from danger, both physical and commercial.
Latte Trouble is a witty, light-hearted mystery with a splash of fashion thrown in.
Murder Most Frothy (2006)
Thanks to her new, multimillionaire friend, David Mintzer, Clare is off to the Hamptons to escape the city and enjoy some well-earned time away. But of course, there’s a catch. While she’s there, she’ll be training David’s new team of staff in the restaurant he owns.
However, her work doesn’t stop there. After an employee is found dead in David’s bathroom, Clare is forced to investigate, but her findings may bring her closer to the truth about her new friend.
Murder Most Frothy has a sinister central plot, but remains light-hearted and cozy in tone.
Decaffeinated Corpse (2007)
Despite the contradiction, many of Clare’s customers love a decaffeinated espresso, which the baristas think is a pointless order. When a friend of Clare’s ex-husband creates the world’s first botanically decaffeinated coffee bean and manages to sneak it into the country, Clare sees this as an opportunity to provide her caffeine-free customers with more options.
Decaffeinated Corpse hones in on Clare’s new business opportunity, which promptly becomes a lot more sinister when a dead body shows up. But one body turns into a string of corpses that initiates one of Clare’s most intense investigations yet.
French Pressed (2008)
Joy, Clare’s daughter, is diving headfirst into the food world with an internship at one of New York’s most prestigious French restaurants. But when she starts an affair with one of the older chefs, Clare is forced to intervene but must do so subtly to maintain her relationship with her daughter.
Clare offers to supply coffee to Tommy, a man she now loathes, in order to keep one eye on Joy. But things quickly turn sour when ‘accidents’ happen around the kitchen and Joy becomes a suspect. Clare knows Joy is innocent and must now track down the actual killer in order to clear her name. But it’s not going to be easy and Clare risks putting herself in danger.
French Pressed is a brilliant, mysterious story that delves deeper into the personal life of Clare and her daughter. With romantic, sinister, scandalous, and investigative themes running throughout, this is a jam-packed book guaranteed to keep you turning pages.
Espresso Shot (2008)
Clare has been given a fantastic new task – she’s in charge of creating a brand new gourmet coffee and dessert place, fit for a high-profile wedding to be held at the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art. Celebrities, including famous chefs, will be attending, so this is the perfect place for Clare to get some exposure.
But there’s one catch – the groom is Matteo Allegro, also known as Matt, or Clare’s ex-husband. Although Clare and Matt have an amicable relationship (they’re even business partners!), it’s no secret that this wedding is going to be super awkward, especially because Clare thinks Matt’s making an awful mistake.
The bride is a high-maintenance magazine editor, Breanne, who seems to get rid of everything (or everyone) who stands in her way. This is why Clare becomes increasingly suspicious when people start showing up dead around her. Is this Breanne’s doing? Or is the killer simply getting closer to the bride?
Espresso Shot is another personal one that allows readers to delve further into Clare’s character, past relationship, and priorities.
Holiday Grind (2009)
Clare has a soft spot for one of her regulars, Alfred Glockner. So when she finds him shot dead in an alleyway, Clare is not only devastated but determined to find out who’s responsible. The police have dubbed his death as the result of a mugging, but Clare is convinced that there’s more to it, and as usual, Clare’s right.
Holiday Grind follows as Clare investigates Alfred’s death alone. But she soon realizes that her regular may not have been the person she thought he was and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she gets to danger.
Roast Mortem (2010)
Roast Mortem is an intriguing, slightly different addition to this brilliant series. It follows Clare as she investigates all the fires that have scorched and destroyed a bunch of cafes in the area.
Fearing that Village Blend might be next, Clare is determined to stop whoever’s responsible in their tracks. Her determination only intensifies when her detective boyfriend, Mike, gets trapped in one of the fires. She must try and rescue Mike before it’s too late, but will the fire starter get to her first?
Murder by Mocha (2011)
A new trend has reached the city – a special coffee blend known as an aphrodisiac. It’s called ‘Mocha Magic Coffee’ and it’s all anyone’s talking about. The product is expected to sell for millions and is rumored to be sold on Aphrodite’s Village, a website dedicated to women’s passions, desires, and lifestyles.
Just as the product is launched, one of the website editors is murdered and Clare believes that whoever is responsible is after the formula. She takes it upon herself to investigate the death, but what will she find in the meantime?
Murder by Mocha is a great, brilliantly-written story that merges themes of love and passion in Coyle’s classic murder mystery framework.
A Brew to Kill (2012)
Village Blend becomes the scene of a crime when a reckless driver hits a beloved customer outside the store. This hit-and-run becomes the talk of the town and Clare won’t stop until she finds who’s responsible.
Since their divorce, Clare and Matt have been working together – Clare manages the coffeehouse and Matt travels the world importing different types of coffee from across the globe. But it soon becomes clear that coffee is not the only thing that Matt is importing, he’s involved with a much darker business and Clare begins to wonder if that deadly car was meant for her.
A Brew to Kill is intriguing and sheds more light on Matt, Clare’s ex-husband. Their relationship, their business, and their lives are at stake, but Clare’s already lost a dedicated customer, she’s not willing to let Matt’s choices take anything else from her.
Holiday Buzz (2012)
Christmas in New York City, there’s nothing better right? The ice skating, the lights, the eggnog, and of course, the parties. But this year, something sinister haunts one big Christmas bash and when someone winds up dead, Clare’s the one to investigate.
Holiday Buzz covers a series of similar incidents, including one a lot closer to Clare. Clare is an integral part of the Great New York Cookie Swap, so she’s the one to discover the body of a baking assistant. With a suspected serial killer on the loose, more and more bodies are discovered and soon, Clare becomes a target.
Billionaire Blend (2013)
Clare saves a young man, Eric Thorner, from a car bomb. Desperate to make it up to her, Eric offers Clare a series of presents. The first is a top-of-the-market espresso machine and the other is a lot more life-changing. He offers her a brilliant new job opportunity: to create the world’s most expensive blend of coffee.
Although she’s busy with a new project, deaths keep cropping up across the city and it becomes evident that something bigger is at play. Clare’s boyfriend has his own expert theories, but a series of suspicious events makes Clare wonder whether her CEO friend has the best intentions.
Billionaire Blend is an unpredictable story with captivating new characters.
Once Upon a Grind (2014)
It’s fairy-tale week and for the occasion, Clare has whipped up some ‘magic’ beans. The whole city has gone fairy-tale crazy and Clare, like everyone else, has gone all out. Her cafe, her truck, and her products have all received a fairy-tale makeover ahead of a Central Park festival.
Once Upon a Grind once again delves into Matt’s work, as he brings back some African coffee beans that are rumored to be magical. Clare is skeptical but tries it nevertheless and sees a vision of Sleeping Beauty in Central Park, which to Clare’s surprise, leads to a real unconscious female. As a result, Clare finds some evidence, which points to a more sinister issue.
Dead to the Last Drop (2015)
Clare is visiting Washington D.C. and to begin with, her new blend isn’t taking off as she’d have hoped. That is, until it captures the attention of the president’s daughter. As soon as word gets out about her coffee preferences, Clare’s sales rocket.
But when Clare finds a dead body and the president’s daughter vanishes, Clare finds herself on the run with her detective boyfriend. Somehow, she has earned a reputation as the enemy of the state and must prove herself and her partner innocent before her newfound success crumbles around her.
Dead to the Last Drop is a fantastic book with action-packed plot lines and interesting character developments.
Dead Cold Brew (2017)
When her boyfriend, Mike, gets down on one knee, Clare is overwhelmed with joy and excitement. But the wedding planning is paused when danger edges closer to Clare and her loved ones.
Dead Cold Brew takes one step closer to Clare’s personal life. A mysterious letter is given to Joy, Clare’s daughter, which gives her a small fortune. As if this wasn’t enough motivation for an investigation, Clare’s ring designer is poisoned.
Shot in the Dark (2018)
Village Blend becomes a hot spot for daters with the help of a new app. But when someone is shot dead, the coffeehouse soon transforms from a romantic, cozy spot to a crime scene.
The victim is a frequent dater, known for breaking hearts and playing the field. Police are quick to arrest his most recent date, but all signs indicate that she’s being framed.
In Shot in the Dark, Clare must carefully tiptoe around her customers, aware that while some are merely there to find love, others may be involved in something a lot more ominous and this death has already caused enough bad publicity for Clare’s small cafe.
Brewed Awakening (2019)
Clare has been missing for a week. She wakes up, confused and alone, on a bench in Washington Square Park. She makes her way back home and everyone is overjoyed that she’s back, but she had no idea she was missing in the first place.
Among those providing a warm welcome, is Clare’s fiancé Mike, who Clare now has no recollection of. In fact, she doesn’t remember much about the last 10 years of her life. What Clare doesn’t know is that her memory loss is a result of a crime she witnessed.
Brewed Awakening places Clare in the victim’s shoes for the first time, but the real question is – what happened to her?
Honey Roasted (2021)
While planning her honeymoon, Clare comes across a special honey that she adds to her coffee – it’s the new customer favorite and it’s now gained broader culinary recognition.
Honey Roasted follows Clare as she discovers a friend’s dead body, the friend who helped her create this new honey. She’s forced to investigate a string of suspicious chefs but is terrified that her investigations are pinning a target on her back.
All books in this series center around Penelope Thorton-McClure, the owner of the Rhode Island-based cozy bookstore. Along with Jack Shepard, the ghostly private investigator who allegedly inhabits the shop, she solves numerous mysteries that crop up, some of which are very personal. Here are the Haunted Bookshop novels in order:
- The Ghost and Mrs. McClure
- The Ghost and the Dead De
- The Ghost and the Dead Man’s Library
- The Ghost and the Femme Fatale
- The Ghost and the Haunted Mansion
- The Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller
- The Ghost and the Haunted Portrait
- The Ghost and the Stolen Tears
- The Ghost Goes to the Dogs
Cleo Coyle’s repertoire is brilliant for any reader, especially those who are looking for a less intense, but still engaging, series. These books provide an unmatched reading experience: the descriptions are vivid and really help to bring the settings to life and the plot lines are gripping – what more could you want?
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the publication order the same as the chronological order?
Yes – in the Coffeehouse mysteries, the books were written and published in chronological order. However, this can be confusing because some of the books were written in the same year.
Madelyn Alt, Lorna Barrett, Joanne Fluke, and Julie Hyzy are all good choices if you enjoyed Cleo Coyle’s repertoire.
What should I read after On What Grounds?
Well, if you want to continue the series, Through the Grinder, the 2nd book in the series is the obvious next step. However, if you’re looking for something outside of Cleo Coyle’s authorship, you can try Kate Collins’s Flower Shop mysteries. They are very popular with Coyle fans and provide a similarly light-hearted, cozy reading experience.
Are cozy mysteries popular?
Millions of cozy mystery books are sold every year and many authors known for reading cozy mysteries have a loyal fanbase. They are popular with readers who want engaging plots without the intense, fast-paced action scenes that frequently come attached to mystery books.
Who is the best cozy mystery writer of all time?
Agatha Christie is known as one of the best mystery writers and she has a huge selection of work to dive into. Her books are a little more intense (in some parts) than Cleo Coyle’s work, but her brilliantly constructed characters and absence of gritty action allow her books to fall into the cozy mystery category.
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