LINDA FRENCH – Coffee to Die For.

Avon, paperback original. First printing, December 1998.

   Linda French is the author’s maiden name, and this is second of three mystery novels she wrote under this byline. All of them take place in the northwestern corner of Washington state, with the leading character in each of them being Teodora “Teddy” Morelli, a history professor who lives in Bellingham. According to Google is about 85 miles north of Seattle, which is where most of Coffee to Die For takes place.

   Not so coincidentally, according to Amazon, Linda French is a history professor who lives in Bellingham, Washington.

   Based on her entry the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin, here’s a list of her mystery fiction in book form:

FRENCH, LINDA. Pseudonym of Linda Mariz, 1948-
      * Talking Rain. Avon, pbo, April 1998.


      * Coffee to Die For. Avon, pbo, Dec 1998.
      * Steeped in Murder. Avon, pbo, Dec 1999.

   Under her married name, Ms. French also wrote the following pair of mysteries:

MARIZ, LINDA (Catherine French) 1948- . Pseudonym: Linda French.
      * Body English. Bantam, pbo, Feb 1992.


      * Snake Dance. Bantam, pbo, Aug 1992.

   Anthropologist Laura Ireland, who’s also based in Washington state, is featured in both of these, although the second one takes place in Louisiana’s Cajun country. (She’s also a tall championship volleyball player, while Teddy Morelli is short, maybe five foot three.)

   Of the five, Coffee to Die For is the only one I’ve read, and while one should never say “never,” all things considered, I’m not likely to read another, or at least not right away.

   It’s not that it’s badly written, mind you, for it’s not. It’s not, shall we say, my cup of naturally flavored chocolate coffee. In fact, I suspected this from the very first paragraph, which I will quote:


    “From the balcony, Teddy Morelli dumped a forty-pound bale of fiberfill over the rail. She stared into the hopper, mesmerized as the compressed air of the stuffing machine ravaged the bale, plumping it to thirty times its former volume. A single block of fiberfill would fatten seventy-five of her sister Daisy’s exquisite woolen bunnies. But down on the floor of Bunny Business, Inc., her sister was not happy.”

   How cozier could you get than a mystery full of woolen bunnies?

   Dead, eventually, is Daisy’s philandering husband Leo, a scientist who (a) has recently developed the aforementioned naturally flavored chocolate coffee plant, and (b) has even more recently given himself a present in the form of a young, new (and beautiful) lab assistant by the name of Molly Thistle.

   When he’s found murdered in his laboratory office, no one sheds a tear. Teddy and Dolly assume that Molly did it, only to discover that she has an unbreakable alibi. It is not known whom the police suspect, unless it is Daisy, since they are visible on the scene for a maximum of seven pages out of 210 in all.

   Which means that the percentage of professional police participation is just over 3%. I’ve heard of low-carb diets, but this is far too low for me.

   The rest of the book is filled with Teddy’s extended family and circle of friends, along with some goons with whom Leo was partner’s with in some sort of cannabis deal, now gone bad. Among the circle of friends, by the way, is Teddy’s ex-husband Aurie Scholl, a knee surgeon who works with the Seahawks, who’s hoping they can get back together sometime.

   Four out of five reviewers on Amazon left positive comments, but keeping in mind that I’m not a member of the target audience for books like this, I need something more solid to chew on.