Streaming Shows and Serial Betrayals

Author: Cleo Coyle

The Village Blend is once again part of the “it” scene as a film crew for a famous streaming show, Only Murders in Gotham, staring a famous comedian and popstar turned actress, is filming on location at the Blend. While this means extra work for Clare’s crew, it also means lots of celeb greeting opportunities and a chance at fame and fortune for her staff turned wannabe actors. Even Esther is getting into the excitement. But something is just off about this production, and as the accidents mount, it becomes clear that sabotage is at play. Jerry, the famous comedian, has a rocky past. He has plenty of enemies and psycho fans. Could one of them be exacting revenge? With the help of Madame, who knows Jerry’s secret past, Clare tries to unravel just what is happening before the behind-the-scenes shenanigans turn deadly.

In this, the 20th edition of the Coffeehouse Mystery series, many of our tried-and-true characters take a backseat to what is thinly veiled fan fiction mirroring Only Murders in the Building with Steve Martin and Selena Gomez. I haven’t watched this show, being more of a fan of B horror for my movie time, but the similarities are beyond obvious and frankly, distracting.

The cultured world of New York and the usual jet setting, high stakes mysteries are instead transplanted to the world of TV celebrities, and honestly, it’s just not that appealing to me. I’m not especially enamored of actors or Hollywood or showbiz, and so the insights into acting culture aren’t the fascinating asides that usually pop up in the series. Plus, coffee takes a real backseat here as a complicated backstory unravels. Jerry has an iffy secret past. The director has a secret past. The main actress has a secret past. The weapons handler dude has some issues. And so on. Everyone has a long trial of uber secret things they have been doing and are involved in, to the point that the threads become confused and hopelessly snarled.

In the meantime, our usual characters are apparently on a literary vacation. Quinn and Matt barely make an appearance. Tucker, the annoyingly overdone barista, is slightly more in the picture, and Esther gets ten seconds of quips in before all the coffee crew fade into the background. Madame comes forward at one pivotal point to essentially give Clare the answer to the mystery, but this move is neither organic nor believable. Clare is on her lonesome here in the dazzling land of streaming TV.

That’s not to say that Bulletproof Barista is bad – I don’t think Coyle can write a bad book – but it’s certainly not the best or most inspired in the series. This time, even I was able to figure out the baddie before the final reveal, and the theatrics become a little too unwieldly to maintain the true sense of drama and imminent danger. It’s an ok offering – entertaining, but not up to the same quality and standards of the preceding books. Recommended for fans, but don’t start here. Go to the beginning of the series and spend time with the original characters who make and populate what is usually a high stakes caffeinated fest with city flare and cosmopolitan intrigue among the rich and ruthless.

– Frances Carden

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Frances Carden
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