I usually love this series. I usually devour the new installments in a day or two. But this time, this time the book was not my cup of tea (pun intended).
Let me say first that while it wasn’t to my liking, this book is still very well-written. The plot line is thought out, the characters always have depth and are well-rounded. There are red herrings and plenty of suspects to guess from. That’s why I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.
However, having said that, I really didn’t like this installment. It felt too “dark” for a cozy mystery. Cozies often have multiple murders, but they don’t usually feature a killer who seemingly just likes to kill. So many murders just in the first several chapters. It just put a “dark” mood on the whole book. There was also more suspense than usual in a cozy mystery. Now Laura Childs’ books sometimes have more suspense but this seemed more than usual even for her books. The combination of those two things just made this an uncomfortable read that did not resonate with me.
That doesn’t mean I won’t read the next Tea Shop Mystery. I still enjoy the series!! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read this book. It’s very well-written and should be read, especially if you like this series!
About the Author
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.
Thank you for joining me today on this Great Escapes Blog Tour! If you wish to visit other spots along the tour, please click the graphic below and you’ll be taken to the blog tour page!
Welcome! Today I’m hosting a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Plum Tea Crazy, a Tea Shop Mystery by Laura Childs. I love this series so I was excited to be able to read and review this newest installment.
Before we get to my review, I’m happy to say that we have a guest post from Laura Childs herself to enjoy! Thank you to Ms. Childs for being willing to write a guest post for my blog!
Guest Post from Laura Childs
A Q&A with Laura Childs, New York Times Bestselling Author of Plum Tea Crazy.
When you write, Laura, do you normally have an idea several months ahead of time or do stories just come to you as you’re writing?
The answer to both those questions is yes. I usually have three or four plot ideas pin-balling around in my head, so I start to work them up and then pick the one I like best. The other ideas are always kept in reserve so I can circle back to them at a later date and flesh them out for the next few books. Since I spent 20 years heading my own advertising agency, I’m lucky that I developed a knack for being “creative on demand,” with ideas coming fairly easy to me.
As you decide on characters, is there something that calls out to you?
Characters in my mysteries are either protagonists or antagonists. That is, they are either the hero or a suspected villain. That means my stories need to include a roster of suspicious characters that keep my readers guessing and turning the pages fairly quickly. I also strive to create suspects that are flamboyant and fairly dysfunctional. In Plum Tea Crazy, for example, I’ve got a snarky banker, goofball handyman, shopaholic ex-wife, and a slicko stalker attorney. There are a few other crazies tossed in for good measure, too.
Are your mysteries based on real life surroundings?
Since the Tea Shop Mysteries all take place in Charleston, SC, I try to create a very careful sense of place right down to the last cobblestone. Do you feel that damp fog as it rolls in off the Atlantic? Can you hear the mournful toot from the lighthouse over on Patriot’s Point? Is someone sneaking up behind you in Dueler’s Alley? Charleston is one of those cities that is eccentric and highly atmospheric – old mansions, live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, fog-shrouded bayous. Those are all very real elements and I try my best to sprinkle them throughout my mysteries.
For Plum Tea Crazy was there something you really wanted readers to come away with . . . as in a different outlook on life?
I always try to make the point that my main character, Theodosia, is extremely independent and entrepreneurial. When I was in marketing, I ran into dozens of women who longed for more focus and control in their work lives. These were smart women – ad managers, product managers, administrators, etc. – who wanted to flee corporate life to open a tea shop, needle craft store, or antique shop. I think most women are natural born entrepreneurs. They don’t always want to build a Fortune 500 company but they do want an environment that is nourishing and rewarding.
Tell us a little bit about Plum Tea Crazy.
As tea shop owner Theodosia views Charleston Harbor’s Gaslights and Galleons Parade from the widow’s walk of a nearby mansion, a local banker tumbles over the narrow railing and plunges to his death. But when Theodosia discovers that the victim was actually shot with a crossbow, this tragic accident turns sinister. With pacing that moves like a thriller, and any number of quirky suspects, it’s one of the reasons Book Riot named my Tea Shop Mysteries to their list of “25 of the All Time Best Cozy Mystery Series.”
Thanks for spending time with us.
Thank you and hugs to everyone!
Thank you again to Ms. Childs for writing a guest post for today!
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.
INCLUDES DELICIOUS RECIPES AND TEA TIME TIPS!
Review – 4 out of 5 stars
This newest installment in the Tea Shop Mystery series from Laura Childs is just as wonderful as the others have been!
I love the cast of characters in this series. Honestly, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t still be reading the series. Characters are far more important to me than the plot line. I can put up with pretty abysmal plot lines (which this is NOT one of those books – this plot line was excellent) if the characters are awesome. I’ve always enjoyed Theodosia, Drayton, Haley, Detective Tidwell and the rest. It’s fun to come back each spring to another visit into their world! These are well-rounded, complex, developed characters and they’re delightful.
The plot line in this one was excellent. There were enough suspects that it was hard to know who was the true villain. I did guess correctly, but it would have been very easy for me to be side-tracked by one of the other options. There was just something about the villain character that seemed “off” about them. That’s all I’m going to say so I don’t give anything away though!
If you haven’t read the series before, you could certainly start with this one as each mystery is its own story, but I would recommend starting at the beginning of the series with Death by Darjeeling. There are backstory things that will make more sense if you start the series at the beginning.
Either way, pick up Plum Tea Crazy and enjoy the newest installment in this great series!
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Today, I’m super excited to bring to you the latest stop for Pekoe Most Poison by Laura Childs! I love the Tea Shop mysteries and look forward to the newest one every spring. This one didn’t disappoint, either!
When Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning is invited by Doreen Briggs, one of Charleston’s most prominent hostesses, to a “Rat Tea,” she is understandably intrigued. As servers dressed in rodent costumes and wearing white gloves offer elegant finger sandwiches and fine teas, Theo learns these parties date back to early twentieth-century Charleston, where the cream of society would sponsor so-called rat teas to promote city rodent control and better public health.
But this party goes from odd to chaotic when a fire starts at one of the tables and Doreen’s entrepreneur husband suddenly goes into convulsions and drops dead. Has his favorite orange pekoe tea been poisoned? Theo smells a rat.
The distraught Doreen soon engages Theo to pursue a discreet inquiry into who might have murdered her husband. As Theo and her tea sommelier review the guest list for suspects, they soon find themselves drawn into a dangerous game of cat and mouse…
5 out of 5 stars.
I think this is one of my favorites of the Tea Shop series so far! I really enjoyed this one. The mystery itself was great. I didn’t figure out who the killer was until very close to the end where it was revealed. Plus, this time around we had a new method and a new way of delivering that method. Sometimes having the victim shot or stabbed gets a little old, so this one was a refreshing change.
I absolutely love the characters in this series. Reading about Theodosia, Drayton, and Haley is like visiting with old friends. Their characters are so well-rounded, developed, and complex. It’s a pleasure visiting them in each book and getting to know them just that little bit more. It’s a pleasure to see how their relationships with each other and with others in the community grow and develop.
I love all the descriptions of Charleston. I’ve never been there but with as many of these books I’ve read, I feel like I have. I can easily visualize all the alleys and cemeteries and old mansions that are there. I feel like if I ever make it down there to visit, I’m going to feel right at home! It takes a skilled author to do that without boring the reader with the descriptions. Ms. Childs’ does this excellently.
The pace of these books has always been good and this one is no exception. It was never boring and kept moving along at a good clip, but yet not too fast that you couldn’t keep up.
This is a great installment in the Tea Shop Mystery series and I highly recommend it! Pick it up and enjoy! If you’ve never read the series, you don’t have to know the back story to enjoy this one, but I highly recommend the rest of the series as well!
** I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions expressed are my own. **
About the Author
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 fund-raising 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.
After a successful party at Bodie Island’s Lighthouse Library, librarian Lucy Richardson is ready to curl up with her cat, Charles, and a good book. But her R and R is cut short when she notices some mysterious lights leading a small boat to crash into the coast.
The two shipwrecked seafarers survive the ordeal—but one of them shows up dead ashore a few days later. Lucy finds herself again roped into a murder investigation and navigating a sea of suspects, all of whom had motives to deep-six the deceased. And this time, she has a sinking feeling that finding the real killer won’t be so easy…
Reading Up A Storm by Eva Gates is the third book in the Lighthouse LibraryMystery series. I found this book to be absolutely delightful. I’ve enjoyed the series since its creation and this book was no exception. It was very well-written and I love the settings and characters.
What’s not to love about a library set inside a historic lighthouse? That coupled with the fact that Lucy, our heroine, lives in a small apartment on the top floor of the lighthouse, makes it the perfect setting.
I like that while Lucy is often trying to figure out who the murderer is, she doesn’t take unneeded risks like some cozy mystery heroines do. She asks questions and annoys people with that, which sometimes makes the villain come after her, but when it comes to setting up “sting” operations or anything like that, she’s careful to involve friends and/or law enforcement. Many cozy mystery heroines take unnecessary risks and sometimes it drives me crazy. I really like that Lucy doesn’t do that.
This mystery kept me guessing. I wondered about the one character (who ended up being the villain) but I wasn’t sure it was him/her until the end. The plot line moved along nicely. It wasn’t too fast or too slow. I also appreciate the fact that Lucy’s dilemma between two men worked itself out in this book, instead of dragging on and on.
Unfortunately, the sad thing is, that unless this book has some fantastic sales, it’s the end of the Lighthouse Library mysteries. This series really is terrific and I urge you all to check it out. You don’t have to start from the beginning to understand the series. You can read them as stand-alone books. Buy “Reading Up a Storm” by Eva Gates – I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I did!
[I received a free copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review. My review was not influenced by this, nor was I compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions are my own.]
*** UPDATE (5/9/17): We’ve had good news from the author! She was able to buy the copyright to the series and these books will be re-issued by Crooked Lane publishing company and there will be more in the series!! YAY!!!! ***
Normally Theodosia wouldn’t attend a black tie affair for all the tea in China. But she can hardly say no to her hunky, handsome boyfriend, Max, who directs public relations for the Gibbes Museum in Charleston. Max has organized an amazing gala opening for an exhibit of a genuine eighteenth century Chinese teahouse, and the crème de la crème of Charleston society is invited.
In the exotic garden staged in the museum’s rotunda, a Chinese dragon dances to the beat of drums as it weaves through the crowd. The guests are serenaded by a Chinese violin as they sample an assortment of tempting bites. And to give them a memento of the occasion, there’s even a photo booth. But Theodosia makes a grim discovery behind the booth’s curtains: the body of museum donor Edgar Webster.
While Theodosia prefers tea service over the service of justice, this case is difficult to ignore—especially after Max becomes a suspect. Now she must examine the life of the fallen philanthropist and find out who really wanted him to pay up…
Ming Tea Murder by Laura Childsis the 16th book in the Tea Shop Mystery series. This series is one of the first cozy mystery series I read and it introduced me to the world that is cozy mysteries. I discovered this series about 10 years ago while I was working as a bookshelver in my public library. I kept shelving these mysteries so I knew they were popular and I finally picked one up and read it. I haven’t missed one since.
This is one of my least favorite books in the series. I felt like the beginning of the book was very stilted and it almost made me say “Did someone else write this beginning?” However, it did get better as it went on.
Of course, all my favorite characters were back, Theodosia, Haley, Drayton and I was thrilled to be reunited with them. For the first time in this series, I did figure out the murderer very early on; usually Ms. Childs has me guessing until the very end.
The book beyond the first few chapters was well-written. While, I wouldn’t call this the best installment in the series by far, it was decent. I’m still looking forward to more in the series.