Tea shop Mysteries
by Laura Childs
Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fundraising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.
Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:
The Tea Shop Mysteries – set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She’s also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn’t rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.
The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans’ spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!
The Cackleberry Club Mysteries – set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe’s undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.
Haunted Hibiscus (A Tea Shop Mystery)
22nd in Series
by Julie S., staff reviewer
I love these Tea Shop Mysteries. Settling in to read Haunted Hibiscus felt as if I were coming home. The Indigo Teahouse, a comfortable place filled with familiar faces, heavenly treats, and assorted teas that entice the palate lets us cozy in. By now, as Haunted Hibiscus is #22 in the series, Theodosia and company have become our family, and our family didn’t disappoint us in this delightful read.
A falling-down mansion turned into a haunted house, a dark night, and the Historical Society Halloween fundraiser, complete with characters dressed in historical garb, are described so well we are salivating for more. The few short pages introducing us to the victim made me fall in love with the character right away. The anguish I felt at her startling death was real because I wanted more of her. I loved the Sherlock Holmes themed tea and wanted to sign up for the Edgar Allen Poe Symposium. I thought this time I’d zero in on picking up clues and solving the mystery, but Miss Childs lured me away again with electric tea brewers that are Bluetooth enabled (Drayton’s reaction was priceless), pumpkin spiced tea, witch’s broom tea (Did you know white teas have the highest level of antioxidants?), and local architecture.
I finished the book with Drayton’s Hibiscus tea on my mind and wanted to attend a tea tasting at the Indigo Teahouse with its lovely themed décor and assortment of treasures in the charming shop. I loved coming home to this next in the series. Home is where you want to be when life’s conundrums are solved.
Tea maven Theodosia Browning brews up trouble in the latest Tea Shop Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs.
It is the week before Halloween and Theodosia Browning, proprietor of the Indigo Tea Shop, and her tea sommelier, Drayton, are ghosting through the dusk of a cool Charleston evening on their way to the old Bouchard Mansion. Known as the Gray Ghost, this dilapidated place was recently bequeathed to the Heritage Society, and tonight heralds the grand opening of their literary and historical themed haunted house.
Though Timothy Neville, the patriarch of the Heritage Society, is not thrilled with the fundraising idea, it is the perfect venue for his grandniece, Willow French, to sign copies of her new book, Carolina Crimes & Creepers.
But amid a parade of characters dressed as Edgar Allan Poe, Lady Macbeth, and the Headless Horseman, Willow’s body is suddenly tossed from the third-floor tower room and left to dangle at the end of a rope. Police come screaming in and Theodosia’s boyfriend, Detective Pete Riley, is sent to Willow’s apartment to investigate. But minutes later, he is shot and wounded by a shadowy intruder.
Timothy begs Theodosia to investigate, and shaken by Riley’s assault, she readily agrees. Now, she questions members of the Heritage Society and a man who claims the mansion is rightfully his, as well as Willow’s book publisher and her fiancé, all while hosting a Sherlock Holmes tea and catering several others.
But the Gray Ghost holds many secrets, as do several other key suspects, while this murder mystery plays out on the eve of Halloween.
INCLUDES DELICIOUS RECIPES AND TEATIME TIPS!
Tea Shop Mystery
21st in Series
Publisher: Berkley (March 3, 2020)
While diving into this next adventure with the gang at the Indigo Tea Shop, I wondered what would be different. I expected a murder, I expected the Charleston setting, and I expected to spend time in the shop along with the locals and a new tea event. Laura Childs won’t let you down. Delaine Dish makes a welcome reappearance, Tidwell openly enjoys his flowering tea selection, and Earl Grey is as darling as ever. There are town references and dark streets to wander down, cluttered shops to visit, decorated tables to appreciate, and scrumptious menu items to drool over. And a murder to solve. Yes, our Drayton presents us with great tea information like how gunpowder tea goes with spicy Asian food, Assam teams with custard, and Formosa oolong pairs nicely with chocolate scones. And how many minutes should you brew a first-flush Darjeeling. As I neared the end of this delightful collection of locale, character, and tastiness, I realized that I didn’t expect something different in this release. I expected my Indigo friends, familiar shop chatter, local characters, comfortable teatime, and an all-around good story. Just like all the others in this series. So settle in and expect both. Enjoy the new and savor the familiar of this Lavender Blue Murder mystery.
Tea maven Theodosia Browning and her tea sommelier Drayton Conneley are guests at a bird hunt styled in the precise manner of an English shooting party. Which means elevenses (sloe gin fizzes), gun loaders, the drawing of pegs, fine-looking bird dogs, and shooting costumes of tweed, herringbone, and suede.
But as gunshots explode like a riff of Black Cat firecrackers, another shot sounds too close for comfort to Theodosia and Drayton. Intrigued but worried, Theodosia wanders into the neighbor’s lavender field where she discovers their host, Reginald Doyle, bleeding to death. His wife, Meredith, is beside herself with grief and begs Theodosia and Drayton to stay the night. But Theodosia awakens at 2:00 A.M. to find smoke in her room and the house on fire. As the fire department screams in and the investigating sheriff returns, Meredith again pleads with Theodosia for help.
As Theodosia investigates, fingers are pointed, secrets are uncovered, Reginald’s daughter-in-law goes missing presumed drowned, and Meredith is determined to find answers via a séance. All the while Theodosia worries if she’s made a mistake in inviting a prime suspect to her upscale Lavender Lady Tea.
Plum Tea Crazy, Tea Shop Mysteries
I’ve followed the tea shop series from book one, and the latest installment is just what I expected and trusted from a Laura Childs book. Plum Tea Crazy can be read as a stand-alone, but why deprive yourself? Start at the beginning (see earlier reviews and titles posted below) and get to know everyone, watch them grow, and get involved in the neighborhood. I can’t decide which I love best: following Theodosia on her run with Earl Grey down the streets of Charleston, visiting the local shops and owners, salivating over the pastries and teas on the menu, or trying to solve the murder mystery that inevitably falls onto Theodosia’s tea tray.
This particular episode gives us more of Drayton. I just love him. Two (of many) favorite Drayton moments: Jaime flatters him, and Drayton accepts the praise in his most Drayton way; and his line, “What have I got to lose? Except my stellar record as a law-abiding citizen.” You’ll see what he’s up to with that comment. And be prepared for some crashing good fun with a not-so-ladylike fight scene at the Silk Road Show.
Riley points out, “Lady, you pack a lot of living into one day.” Well, Ms. Childs packs a lot of fun and coziness into her Indigo Tea Shop series. No reservations needed. Open to page one and snuggle up with good friends, fun dialogue, delicious food and aromatic teas, some haiku, and enticing settings. Enjoy your trip to Charleston!
Synopsis of Plum Tea Crazy
While viewing the harbor’s Gaslights and Galleons Parade from the widow’s walk of Timothy Neville’s Charleston mansion, local banker Carson Lanier seemingly tumbles over a narrow railing, then plunges three stories to his death. But a tragic accident becomes something much more sinister when it’s discovered that the victim was first shot with a bolt from a crossbow. At the request of the mansion owner, Theodosia investigates the tragedy and is soon neck deep in suspects. An almost ex-wife, a coworker, a real estate partner–all had motives for killing the luckless banker, but one resorted to murder to settle accounts. (Books include delicious recipes and teatime tips!)
Pekoe Most Poison,
Tea Shop Mysteries by Laura Childs
A Laura Childs books is like getting a hug. Really. Her cozies follow the rules of the genre and offer a couple of nights of pure escape, surrounded by developed characters, clear plots, and delicious sensory details. Character and setting are strong in her cozies. In the smallest of moments, the author slides in a detail or two that show us just who we are dealing with. For example, what would you think of first when you watch your husband keel over dead? Certainly not your precious Akoya pearls tumbling and scattering across the floor. Poor Doreen. Bless her heart. Laura Childs offers many moments for us to see who these people really are underneath their fancy outfits. And how can you not chuckle at “her hair looked like a basket of curly fries.” Now that conjures up an image. And a constant throughout each book in the series is the endearing friendship and interaction between Drayton and Theodosia. (I just love Drayton.)
Ms. Childs is also skilled at setting. There are so many sweet moments of description to give you a sense of taste, smell, and tea shop ambiance. I love visiting the Indigo Tea Shop and reading about the table décor, which tea Drayton describes, or what Haley has on the menu. The author also drops the reader right in the middle of a dark alley or other intriguing location along lovely Charleston streets. You will find yourself slinking down an alley, passing white marble statuary and pattering fountains, all while a sleek black car is in pursuit. And after all the tasty menu items, mansion descriptions, cozy kitchen details, and quaint street scenes, the friendship between the staff and Theodosia is sweet, familiar, and feels like a warm smile straight from the author. This book does exactly as intended: provides the reader with a good evening or two of lovely scenes, story, and character. Then there is a bonus for you. In the back of the book are recipes, tea resources, websites and blogs to visit, and links to get you to Charleston, South Carolina. I highly recommend this series for a delicious and cozy night of hugs.
Tea Shop Mysteries: Sweet Tea Revenge
The moment had finally arrived. My Gunpowder Green tea was brewed, blanket heated and ready, pillow fluffed, and a fresh new copy of Laura Child’s Sweet Tea Revenge beckoning from my night table. With a huge grin, I opened the book to the first pages and immediately tumbled into the story. Laura Childs has a way of making that happen.
Sweet Tea Revenge is Laura Child’s latest episode in her Tea Shop Mysteries set in Charleston, South Carolina. As thunder rolls and rain pelts the windows in our opening scene, our main character, Theodosia, is racing up the stairs of Ravencrest Inn to assist her friend, Delaine, who is getting married. The bride is dressed, flowers are strewn about, and guests await the big moment. Unfortunately, the moment is bigger than intended. Something borrowed was taken care of, but something blue was not supposed to be the groom.
Hopefully you’ve read each book from the Indigo Tea Shop series because you are reunited with friends: Haley, Draper, Delaine, and Theodosia. No I did not forget Officer Tidwell. How could I? In this latest mystery, Tidwell has become delightfully enriched with a few charming enhancements. All I will say is, do enjoy his new “appreciation” for the fine art of Tea. Utterly endearing.
The storm continues as guests are presented before us like a southern buffet: the Ravencrest Innkeepers, Simone the leggy ex of the groom, Nadine’s boyfriend, the curmudgeon real estate partner, ghostbusters Tim and Jed, and an elusive Bobby St. Cloud.
Ms. Child’s characters are deliciously filled out with dimension and memorable traits with a few new folks to meet along the way. In between murder, chaos, and panic, Laura Childs gives us a respite as we are treated to the aromas of creamy scones and tea simmered chicken.
I adore the attention to detail Childs gives us. She uses all five senses to treat us to an afternoon around the southern streets, through heady, jasmine-filled gardens, and back to the Indigo Tea Room in time to hear the snap of crisp, bright tablecloths spread onto the tables. Be prepared to smell Haley’s warm peach scones or cinnamon raisin biscuits arriving on a tray. This tale will leave you hanging by a thread with enough clues and red herrings to keep you guessing to the end. Don’t peek – enjoy the ride.
Along with yummy recipes and tea ideas, something very special awaits us at the end. Her new nonfiction book, “Living a Tea Shop Life” is in the works. I’m first in line.
Tea Shop Mysteries: Steeped in Evil
Berkley Prime Crime, 2014
As Drayton so gentlemanly states, “We create a refuge of sorts . . . [a]n intermezzo from the pressures of everyday life.” And Laura Childs has written another book to do just that.
Steeped in Evil, number 15 in the series, is filled with tantalizing aromas, sweet chuckles, a few rewarding tense moments, (dare I say a ‘barrel of fun’) and an engaging ticket into the world and town of interesting people, qualities of a good tea, colorful gardens, and a slice of time where your own troubles fade, chores are not important, and the first smile of the day lingers from page one to the end of the book. Detective Tidwell thankfully returns and I did hope to enjoy his interactions more than was offered. But how nice to learn that a reader really wants a character to appear more on the pages. I have read every book in this series and reviewed most of them, and can honestly say that this latest release will not disappoint the many fans of Haley, Theodosia, Drayton and Delaine. Slip away from your day for just a little while and you, as I, will sincerely thank Ms. Childs for a lovely evening among friends.
I’m such a fan of the author’s Tea Shop series that I had to check out Egg Drop Dead, Number Seven in the Cackleberry Club series. Both have much to offer a cozy fan. The elements are all there for a night or two of escaping any dreadful election news or just a bad day at work. You probably can’t tell at all from my earlier reviews if I enjoy her writing (see below). Her books are clean, snuggly, and easy to read. And Ms. Childs is so very sweet and loves to interact with her fans. My good friend, Betsy Bean, still gushes about their tea interview and what a sweetheart Ms. Childs is. I think it shows in her writing.
In each series, you’re sure to have a favorite character to love. Head over to the Charleston Tea Shop and introduce yourself to the one and only Drayton. In this Cackleberry Club series, Toni has my vote. Her sense of humor is right up my alley. Toni’s lines smoothly glide across the scene and offer surprise chuckles to round out the lead character Suzanne’s logical personality. Tell me when you get to the part where Suzanne asks Toni, “How do you like your eggs?” Toni’s answer is my answer. Love Toni. I also enjoyed Suzanne’s interactions with Noah, which helped to reveal character depth and bring an extra thematic layer to the story. Oh, and I learned what cattywampus means.
Ms. Childs is quite talented in keeping each series separate in style and tone. There are lots of pretty visuals in this cozy, especially in the yarn truck, and the Knitters’ Tea Party is filled with such tantalizing aromas and flavors that you’ll probably lean close to the pages to breathe in the warm scents. You’ll also notice the auditory descriptions are just right. During the Halloween party, the clack of café noises, barn sounds, and party chatter round out the scene to really pull you in. The mystery is well crafted. The clues are nicely planted, and the resolution will bring a satisfied sigh and a smile. (subliminal to Ms. Childs: send Annie Little Girl Gone to review…)
Yummy recipes are included in the back pages just for you. If you are new to the work of Ms. Childs, pick up any book in any series. She does a cozy proud.
Maintaining good personal relationships with their suppliers is one of the secrets of the Cackleberry Club café’s success, so Suzanne doesn’t mind going out to Mike Mullen’s dairy farm to pick up some wheels of cheese. She’s looking forward to a nice visit with the mild-mannered farmer before heading back to their hectic kitchen.
But when she arrives, Mike’s nowhere to be found. The moaning of his cows leads her to look in the barn, where she discovers a bloodcurdling sight—the farmer’s dead body. Apparently not everyone was as fond of Mike Mullen as the Cackleberry Club.
Churning with grief and outrage, Suzanne, Petra, and Toni vow to find the farmer’s murderer—but as they get closer to the truth, the desperate killer gets whipped into a frenzy and plans to put the squeeze on them…
Tea lovers go here: http://laurachilds.com/teashop.php
Scrapbooking fans here: http://laurachilds.com/scrapbook.php
And for the small-town diner and knitting fan:
Thank you for your comment! These are, indeed, yummy stories. I’ll pass along your comment about the dogs. Both types are essential- dogs are the best!
I love these cozy stories!! Just an fyi though, Therapy dogs are not the same as Service dogs. I don’t want to sound picky but they are different. Keep writing these yummy mysteries though! I love them!
My pleasure! Looking forward to the next book!
THANK YOU FOR SUCH A LOVELY REVIEW. I AM SO GLAD YOU FIND THEO AND DRAYTON AND EVERYONE ELSE TO BE YOUR OLD FAMILIAR FRIENDS WHO EMBARK ON NEW ADVENTURES.