Release Date: Mar 6, 2018
Series: A Tea Shop Mystery
Publisher: Penguin Group
Theodosia Browning, owner of a tea shop in historic Charleston, is having fun at a local event with her employee and friend, Drayton. Banker Carson Lanier is also present at Timothy Neville’s mansion to watch the Gaslights and Galleons Parade in the harbor and falls three stories over a railing. Theodosia and Drayton are shaken and later are shocked when they learn Carson’s death wasn’t an accident. Neville wants to know who is behind the death of one of his guests and asks Theodosia, who has a history of amateur sleuthing, to find the killer. Theodosia can’t resist getting involved in this unusual, tragic murder.
This book is part of a long-running series, but I’ve only read some of the books. I’ve found it’s easy for new or casual readers to become engaged and enjoy the story without reading all the prior books. The book has likeable characters, vivid descriptions of the Charleston setting, and plenty of information about all of the delicious-sounding teas served in Theo’s shop. I especially enjoy the close-knit friendship between Theodosia, Drayton, and Theo’s other employee Haley. I also like that much of Theodosia’s investigating is done at various society and charitable events that she attends as a guest or caterer. This helps liven up the story and gives the reader a glimpse of various events including gallery openings, designer clothing samples sale, and other happenings that are part of Charleston’s social scene.
The downside of the book is that parts are too drawn out without adding much to the story. I’m also not a fan of slapstick in my mysteries and unfortunately there are a few of these scenes, including a catfight between two possible suspects. Luckily, this is the exception not the rule and the rest of the book is an enjoyable cozy mystery that kept my interest until all of the unanswered questions are resolved at the end. After the story concludes, the author shares a variety of recipes for dishes referenced in the story, tips for themed tea parties, and a list of websites and books to help plan your own visit to Charleston to tide you over until Theo’s next adventure.