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Mocha, She Wrote: A Bakeshop Mystery    by Ellie Alexander order for
Mocha, She Wrote
by Ellie Alexander
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2021 (2021)
Paperback, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

Anyone who likes delicious food, amazing coffee creations, beautiful scenery, and a murder mystery that's not gory will enjoy reading Mocha, She Wrote, the thirteenth installment in a series by Ellie Alexander. The stories are set in Ashland, Oregon, which is an actual town where Alexander lives, so the descriptions of the scenery within and around the town are authentic. Many tourists come to stay in Ashland, which is situated near the Siskiyou Mountains, so the shops and events within the town are well-attended.

This story revolves around a competition called the West Coast Barista Cup. The main character, Jules, runs a family bakeshop, Torte, which has a coffee counter staffed by two baristas. One of them, Andy, has entered the competition and hopes to become 'best-in-brew' and win the prize of $10,000. Jules and the rest of her family and friends think that Andy is so talented that he has a good chance of winning. His creative inventions such as 'chunky monkey coffee, a banana chocolate blended coffee shake, or a simple Americano with his exquisitely blended custom roasts' make him a popular barista.

Torte is located at the corner of the central plaza of Ashland, where visiting tourists can buy tickets for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival or just lounge in the park. Adventure lovers can 'take advantage of the region's abundant opportunities from rafting on the Rogue River to hiking Grizzly Peak,' and when they're in town they frequent Torte for food and coffee creations. There are tables both inside, outside in front on the plaza, and outside in back, overlooking the Rogue River. Torte's 'bright red and teal awning, outdoor tables, and window display complete with strings of rainbow bunting, papier-mâché Popsicles, and colorful beach balls give the space a welcoming vibe' which brings in both tourists and townsfolk for food and coffee.

There is, of course, a murder which occurs in the middle of the competition, and Andy is a suspect. Jules and a quirky friend become involved in the investigation, determined to clear Andy and sniff out the actual murderer. During the story we meet many locals, as well as other competitors and judges, and we're also treated to descriptions of meals and goodies prepared by Jules and Andy, with a few recipes shared at the end of the book. This cozy mystery ends satisfactorily and provides many hours of fun reading.

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