Ordinarily, Charleston's Indigo Tea Shop is an oasis of calm. But when tea shop owner, Theodosia Browning, caters the annual Lamplighter Tour of historic homes, one of the patrons turns up dead. Never mind that it's Hughes Barron, a slightly scurrilous real estate developer. Theodosia's reputation is suddenly on the line. Aided by her friends and fellow tea shop entrepreneurs, Theo sets about to unravel the mystery of the deadly Darjeeling and encounters a number of likely suspects. (from author's web site)What a perfect summer read! I immediately fell in love with the Indigo Tea Shop and it's employees. I've never been to Charleston, or anywhere near there unless you count changing planes at the Charlotte airport, but the elegant tea parties, the southern wit and the beautiful gardens made me want to go immediately.
The story is pretty typical "cozy mystery" fare - local business owner turns amateur slueth - but Ms. Childs managed to avoid my pet peeve of cozies. Frequently, mystery authors write "down" to their readers by stopping the action of the book to rehash what has happened and all the possible suspects. This is usually accomplished by having the hero/heroine stop to ponder all this in their head. My problem with this method is that, not only does it kill the action of the story, but it assumes I'm not able to follow the story and make these connections on my own. I once heard a popular mystery author speak at a convention and she admitted "When I need to recap the story, I have [heroine] go in her kitchen and cook and think things through." (Not an exact quote, but as close as I can remember.) This is not to say that Theodosia's thought processes are not developed in this story, but they are woven into the action in small doses so as not to interrupt or annoy.
I will definitely be reading further in this series and checking out Ms. Child's other series, the Cackleberry Club Mysteries, which I have already purchased for the library:
In a rehabbed Spur station outside the small town of Kindred, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here--fluffy omelets, slumbering volcanoes, toad in the hole, and eggs on a cloud. This cozy little café even offers a book nook and knitting nest--and business has been good. But two murders, a runaway girl, a vicious widow, and a messianic cult leader just might lead to their undoing. (from author's web site)
Now if I could just track down some darjeeling...