By Laura Childs
Berkley Prime Crime; $24.95
Sharon Galligar Chance
(Orginally published in the Wichita Falls Times Record News)
I’ll admit right here and now – I adore cozy mysteries. Mystery novels that are set in, well, cozy settings such as bookstores, craft shops, scrapbook stores and the like. These books usually have a strong, level headed lady as the main character, and she usually ends up finding a dead body in some unusual location or situation, and then it’s up to her to find out why said dead body has become…dead.
One of my favorite series is Laura Childs’ Tea Shop mysteries. Set in Charleston, South Carolina, the main character is Theodosia Browning, the owner of Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia has developed a reputation in Charleston for helping the police department solve quite a few murders, all of which she has either been in the vicinity of or she had a direct connection too. To most people, this would either make her a suspect or an extreme busybody, but in relation to a great mystery series, this makes Theodosia a star.
In the latest of the Tea Shop mysteries, “Oolong Dead,” Theodosia once again finds herself smack-dab in the middle of a murder investigation when she literally runs across the lifeless body of Abby Davis, a local newscaster and, by no small coincidence, the sister of Theo’s former boyfriend. So, of course Theodosia is coerced into trying to find out who murdered Abby even though she really didn’t really like the woman all that much herself.
Combining a murder investigation with her busy schedule at the height of the fundraising season in Charleston, Theo juggles her business, her catering, and her sleuthing, plus manages to keep her relationship with her new boyfriend alive and sparkling. Talk about multi-tasking.
Set in the background of the glittering world of a Venetian masked ball for the Charleston Opera, the Southern atmosphere of Charleston itself and the mysterious and spooky bayous of the Carolina coast, Theodosia puts the clues together to find the person responsible for snuffing out her former antagonist.
I love the way author Laura Childs has developed this series in such a way that her loyal readers are always delighted to have an update on the life and goings-on of their favorite teashop owner and her friends, but new readers can also become acquainted with the back-story without having to go out and read the entire series from start to finish first. Not that I wouldn’t encourage anyone to do otherwise – all other nine books are just as fascinating and intriguing as “Oolong Dead.”
So brew yourself a nice pot of tea, and enjoy the antics and dramas of Theodosia Browning and crew in “Oolong Dead.” It’s guaranteed to delight.
(And if you enjoy cozy mysteries as much as I do, check out Childs’ other two series, the Scrapbooking mysteries and the Cackleberry Club mysteries. They are available at local bookstores as well as on Amazon.com.)