Monday, May 09, 2011

Review of Boston Jonson in Murder by Coffee

Boston Jonson in Murder by Coffee
Reviewed by: Tony-Paul de Vissage
Rating: 4 stars
Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing Inc
ISBN: 978-1-55404-822-9

In this latest adventure of Biff Mitchell’s futuristic sleuth, it’s just another day for Boston Jonson, CI (Consultative Investigator) for CI Central when he’s called to The Tenth Cup coffee shop to investigate a mysterious death and make a referral to the proper authorities. The victim is Brandy Williams, a Gutensaur—lover of print books—and registered caffeine addict. Seems Brandy was addicted to the hard stuff—pumped caffeine, genetically engineered coffee with ten times the amount of stimulation of the regular kind. It could’ve been a natural death. The human body can’t stand that much shock at one time and has to become acclimated to so much caffeine being poured into it, except for one thing…today Brandy was drinking regular coffee—and she’s been turned to stone. Now, she’s nothing more than a white stone statue, clutching a coffee cup in one hand and a print book in the other.

Boston barely has time to absorb these facts, and make a futile attempt to utilize his ability to become one with the Universe by absorbing all the vibes floating around the crime scene, when he’s interrupted by Laurel, his CIC contact—sending him to another coffee shop and another crime scene, this one involving two patrons…also addicts, also turned to stone.

So what’s going on?

Boston’s only supposed to investigate, then refer the crime to the proper authorities—the police, conflict resolution, community service—whatever, but as usual, he delays making a decision. Deciding to investigate further, and becoming deeper and deeper involved in finding out what really happened sends his investigations into unwanted places. One of the victims was a nano-chemist for Chaney Pharmaceuticals, a leading producer of altered coffee beans, reportedly owned by a certain South American cartel. Not only that, but the victims’ coffee is found to be laced with nanobots designed to transform the most harmless cup into the nearly-lethal Columbian Red, the most potent and addictive coffee in the world, and the oddest thing of all—the victims apparently put the nanobots into their coffee on purpose.

Why would they do that, knowing what would happen? And who’s the mysterious Dannyg, the supposed supplier of the lethal addition to their morning cup of java?

Now, Boston has more than CIC on his case. Headquarters merely wants him to get on with it and make his referral, but a more sinister character would prefer to have him just plain dead and out of the way. Jane Wayne, president of Coffee Consultants and Coffee Shop Union—connected to coffee cartels, politicians, and international unions—has ordered a hit on the CI, and if he doesn’t move fast, he may end up just as dead as Brandy Williams and all the others…

…and there are more bodies-turned-statues to come…

MY JAUNDICED OPINION: Don’t know whether to term this a novella or a novelette but it’s an entertaining little piece whichever. I’ve read quite a few of Boston Jonson’s adventures and enjoyed each one. The futuristic CI with the shoulder-length tangerine hair and a penchant for Hawaiian shirts always gets involved in some of the oddest crimes imaginable. And this one is no different. The descriptions of the coffee shops, the music, the evolution of the ebook and the downfall of print…all blend into a world which could, quite possibly, become a real one in a few years. The registering of coffee drinkers as caffeine addicts with prescriptions for the drug of their choice certainly is an amusing—and chilling—possibility.

Read Murder by Coffee while you’re enjoying a cup of coffee. It’s only appropriate. Available from Amazon, Fictionwise, Chapters and iTunes.

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