Kaminski, Coffee, and Mysteries

by Stephen Kaminski, Author of the Damon Lassard series

Do Coffee and Mystery Writing Go Hand in Hand? Of course!  When coffee maven Betsy Bean and her Editor asked me to blog about my cozy mystery books (the Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series published by Cozy Cat Press), I found myself wondering just how prevalent coffee—the real black gold, in my opinion—is in my writing.  I never put fingertip to keyboard without a cup of hot java on hand (other than on those occasions when coffee’s seductive older sister—red wine—makes an appearance).  So with Arabica-enriched blood pumping through my veins as I write, I expected the frequency of coffee references to be on the high side, but still, I was surprised by the data.

I knew without looking (which is a good thing seeing as how I wrote the books) that almost every one of my primary characters is a coffee drinker and my first book includes a scene in a Dunkin’ Donuts.  I also knew straight away that I had at least one snippet of coffee-related humor in each book:

Kaminski, It Takes Two to Strangle, Damon LassarcFrom It Takes Two to Strangle, “Sorry the coffee looks like mud … it was ground just a minute ago.”

From Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk, a comment on the irony of serving coffee from an urn at a funeral home.

But I decided to dig deeper. Thanks to the caffeine-fueled software engineers at Microsoft, I was quickly able to drill down on the data.  In It Takes Two to Strangle (the first book in the Damon Lassard series), I use the word “coffee” 29 times.  The book is approximately 61,700 words long, so that’s once every 2,129 words.  It doesn’t sound like a lot until you realize that’s once every eight pages!  For the sake of good old fashioned social science, here are some related reference points: use of the word water—14, wine—16, beer—4, tea—2, soda—5, and lemonade—4.  So coffee was definitely the beverage of choice!  (Also, let’s not comment on what it says about the author that wine is more prevalent than water.)Don't Cry Over Killed Milk

The second book in the series, Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk, features about 62,000 words and 26 of those reference “coffee.”  That’s every 2,384th word—once every nine pages.  I can’t use water as a reasonable comparison for this book as H2O is central to the plot and, as such, is used continually and wine is used just one time, but here’s the rest: beer—9, tea—3, soda—9, and lemonade—3.

So based on the statistics, it’s clear that coffee is king … at least when it comes to my cozy mysteries. I think it’s safe to say that the third book in the series—Murder, She Floats, which is set on a Caribbean cruise ship and due out in September 2014—will, as a cozy, be light in graphic violence and explicit sex but heavy on complex plot lines, witty banter, and rich and aromatic coffee.

My advice (not that you asked): Spend an hour each day curled up with a cup of coffee and your favorite cozy and get a daily fix of murder without guilt … or calories.

And one last thing just for fun: How Fast Can You Spot the Man in the Coffee Beans?  http://www.smart-kit.com/s265/the-man-in-the-coffee-beans-can-you-find-him/

Happy reading and drinking,

Stephen Kaminski

Author of the Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series published by Cozy Cat Press

Winner of the 2012 Reader Views Literary Award for the Mid-Atlantic Region

Finalist in the 2013 Chanticleer Media CLUE Awards

Please visit www.DamonLassard.com

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