Friday, December 28, 2012

Sightseeing is Murder: A Killer New York Tour by Cleo Coyle

Rockefeller Center. Photo: James G. Howes
Planning on spending time in New York during the holidays? Don't mis this Killer New York Tour by Cleo Coyle. 

Sightseeing is Murder: A Killer New York Tour by Cleo Coyle 

Fans of crime stories know that New York means murder, whether you’re inside the grim, blighted city from the novels of Lawrence Block or chasing down the perps and skells of TV shows like The Naked City, NYPD Blue, and Law & Order.

At the theater, we’ve gotten cozy with the Big Apple’s criminal element in films like The French Connection, Dog Day Afternoon, Taxi Driver, and American Gangster. Theirs is a nasty, brutish world with a drug dealer on every corner, shootout at the neighborhood bank, and the corpse of a cheating husband, ex-wife, or conniving mistress cluttering up most luxury suites.

Reality check: These days, the NYPD will tell you that our fair city is one of the safest in the country. Then again, that’s a per capita view. With eight million inhabitants there’s still plenty of by-the-numbers crime, which means New York will clock up more homicides, burglaries, robberies and muggings than most urban areas in the USA.

Of course, every crime has a scene, some more interesting than others, so whether you live here or are planning to join one of the fifty million who come here annually, we invite you to visit a few of our favorites…

Bryant Park Carousel. Phoeo: Jim Henderson

Back in the 1970s, this midtown green space was nicknamed Needle Park because it had been taken over by heroin addicts, smack dealers, prostitutes, and the homeless. As part of the revitalization of nearby Times Square, this park has been transformed into an urban oasis complete with London plane trees, a restored fountain, Wi-Fi, and a lovely hand-painted carousel just right for a not-so-merry-go-round of murder. It’s precisely where our amateur sleuth finds her first corpse in Holiday Buzz—our latest Coffeehouse Mystery.


Has a body ever been found under the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree? J D Robb came close with her own “holiday” mystery, Holiday in Death, when she executed a character on the adjacent ice rink. In Murder by Mocha, our tenth Coffeehouse Mystery, we introduced readers to the Loft and Garden at Rockefeller Center, an open space high above Fifth Avenue, with a spectacular view of the spires of St. Patrick’s Cathedral—“available for weddings, birthday parties, and…”( we can just hear Hitch saying…) “that special murder.”


Although Tiffany & Company is just down the block (and who doesn’t associate jewels with the holidays—or heists?) our criminal inspiration came from the most extravagant toy store in America. In the movie Big, actor Tom Hanks danced across the giant floor piano. In Holiday Buzz those keys get a workout again—from a forensics team looking for DNA evidence. Before the murder, we used the store as a staging area for lesser crimes, as well: an assault by a masher and an attack by a remote control toy car (neither of which is recommended for children twelve and under).


Muggings, robberies, and assorted nastiness are all associated with Central Park (not to mention Charles Bronson’s famous shootout in Death Wish). In A Brew to a Kill, we added our own crime scene to the list with a hit-and-run murder on one of the park’s winding, tree-lined roads—and, no, the hurtling delivery system for a vehicular homicide was not a horse and carriage.

Photo: Alice Alfonsi

Lady Liberty is a spectacular location for murder. In fact, filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock beat us to it by dropping a villain off the Statue’s torch in Saboteur. (We didn’t have that kind of budget.) In our first holiday mystery, Holiday Grind, we had to settle for tossing someone off the Staten Island Ferry into the waters beneath Lady Liberty.


We hope you enjoyed our mini crime scene tour of the Big Apple. We actually have twelve books worth with a thirteenth set for publication later this year. If you take our complete tour, you’ll see that in the Coffeehouse Mysteries, location matters—and, like any dedicated developer, we’ll continue to search for hot new spots to make a killing.

Alice Alfonsi & Marc Cerasini, who write as Cleo Coyle

CLEO COYLE is the pen name for Alice Alfonsi and Marc Cerasini. When not haunting coffeehouses, hunting ghosts, or rescuing stray cats, Alice and Marc are New York Times bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for NBC, Lucasfilm, Disney, Fox, Imagine, Marvel, and MGM. They live and work in New York City, where they also write the bestselling Coffeehouse Mysteries and Haunted Bookshop Mysteries for Penguin. To learn more, visit their website:


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