A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. She receives creative input from the Real Cats and clerical assistance from She of Little Talent (old SoLT, a.k.a. Roby Sweet). Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to old SoLt (Ms. Sweet). Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Book Review: Death by Vanilla Latte

Mysterious Monday badge

On this Mysterious Monday, we return to Death by Coffee, the café run by Krissy Hancock in the Bookstore Café series, by Alex Erickson. This book shows us Krissy’s relationship with her dad as well as her ongoing romantic issues. Plus there are cats. And a pretty good murder…

The plot

Death by Vanilla Latte, by Alex Erickson
In Death by Vanilla Latte, Krissy is surprised when her father, famed mystery author James Hancock, suddenly shows up for a book signing. James comes with a small…well, I guess you could call them an “entourage” of sorts. Anyway, he’s accompanied by his agent, Rick (who is a total jerk), and the agent’s assistant, Cameron. Rick, who has known Krissy since she was a little girl, tries some moves on her (and we’re not talking about chess), which is really, really icky. When her dad finds out, he is understandably furious. Later he tells Krissy she won’t have to worry about Rick ever again…

What could he possibly mean by that? I hear you asking. Krissy asks that too, especially after she finds Rick’s dead body in his B&B room. Could her father have murdered Rick in a fit of fury? The local police seem to think so.

Let’s not forget that James is a mystery author. You know what usually happens to fictional mystery authors in cozy mysteries, even (or especially) when they’re suspects? That’s right; they get pulled into helping solve the crime. James’s devoted fans, many of whom are aspiring authors themselves, are eager to see him get in on the case. And he’d like to get involved too. Surely he’s learned some useful things in all the research he’s done for his books.

Meanwhile, Krissy has been getting ever more involved with Will, the scrumptious doctor who is everything she could ever want (or is he?). Will is even impressed with Krissy’s past investigative skills, which is a good thing, because it’s those skills that keep bringing her into close contact with Paul, a past love (or is he?) who happens to be a police officer.

The cats

There are two cats in this series: Misfit, an orange cat who lives with Krissy, and store cat Trouble, a black-and white cat. These cats are nice to have around, and they do interact with the human characters throughout the book, providing moments of calm or levity as only cats can. I wouldn’t call them major players though, and they’re not integral to solving the mystery. Not every cat is up to being a crime solver, I guess.

Our verdict

While Death by Vanilla Latte does have some things going for it—a solid plot, a couple of interesting cats—overall, it fell flat for us. It was fun seeing Krissy deal with her father as he, intentionally or not, draws all the attention toward himself. And of course we liked the cats. But the tension among the Krissy-Will-Paul triangle didn’t quite ring true for us. We thought it worked in the first book we read in this series, Death by Pumpkin Spice, but this time around…well, we just wish Krissy would make her mind up and move on. The story felt a little slow in the middle, although it picked up toward the end with the revelation of the killer and the chase to capture him.

This is honestly not one of our favorite series. For us, it lacks that little spark that makes a series special and memorable. After we’ve read two books in the series, the characters still seem like characters in a book; they haven’t fully come to life for us. We consider Death by Vanilla Latte an average cozy—not badly done, but not in the top tier.

One Paw Up, A Good Read!

A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good read; two paws is for a great read. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!

We received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. We wouldn’t tell you it was good unless we really liked it!

The link below is an Amazon Associates link. If you purchase the book through this link, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account. Thank you!


  1. I always appreciate your honest reviews.

  2. Great minds think alike! I'm reviewing this one tomorrow too! I enjoyed it much more than last year's Halloween entry (surprisingly enough) but can totally relate to your critiques as well.

    1. Too funny!--we are exact opposites on this. I enjoyed the Halloween party story more because of the setting.

  3. I don't usually like mysteries ... but I'm definitely checking this one out. I like the complicated interpersonal elements! Oh, and the cats ... OBVIOUSLY.