Plum Tea Crazy
Tea Shop Mystery #19
By Laura Childs
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
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. (Goodreads)
Plum Tea Crazy, the nineteenth entry in the Tea Shop Mystery series, is full of Southern charm. The delicious tea shop setting, complicated suspect list, and the right mix of cozy and danger make this installment worthy of the long running series.
While at a soirée, local tea shop owner Theodosia and her friend and employee Drayton watch, horrified, as a guest falls to his death. It soon becomes obvious that the fall is not the cause of death, and banker Carson Lanier is the victim of foul play. Since Theodosia is curious by nature, was present at the time of death, and has a bit of a reputation for investigating, she does not hesitate to look into things when Heritage Society president Timothy Neville seeks out her assistance. With plenty of gossip pointing to a buffet of suspects, Theodosia weeds through it all to get to bottom of things, all while serving tea and attending high society events.
I have been a fan of the Tea Shop mysteries since the first book, Death by Darjeeling, was published. It is hard to believe that Plum Tea Crazy is the nineteenth entry. I find the setting and characters still fresh. At this point, reading the series is like visiting old friends. I am easily immersed in Laura Childs’ attention to detail and obvious love of all things tea related. I can smell the scones baking and the rejuvenating aroma of freshly brewed tea, and feel the Charleston humidity. I do wish there was a real life Indigo Tea Shop to patronize.
In Plum Tea Crazy, Theodosia finds herself mixed up with antique weapons, a society fashion show, and shady bank deals all in the name of investigating. The mystery surrounding Carson Lanier’s death is sufficiently complex with several viable suspects. However, the killer became obvious to me a third to midway through the book. Still, it is enjoyable to follow along side Theodosia. She is a competent woman and businessman and usually level headed. I felt like she is untypically quick to set her sights on a suspect then bounce back and forth between suspects, always sure of their guilt. There seems to be a plethora of combative, unpleasant characters this time around, and I have no patience for this level of rudeness. Even Theodosia is uncharacteristically rude here. She seems to have lost some of her graciousness and Southern manners. Perhaps it is a sign of the world we live in. Of course, Drayton, who is my favorite character, is ever genteel, and I love him for it. Theodosia has a new-ish boyfriend, Detective Pete Riley, and he is featured much more than Detective Tidwell. I like that Pete does not try to keep Theo from investigating, but their relationship does not feel natural to me. I guess time will tell how it will all play out.
Some cozy readers may find Childs’ description of Carson’s literal downfall a little too detailed. Also, the climactic reveal is more violent for Theodosia than in other books. By standard mystery parameters, though, these instances are still rather tame.
I greatly enjoyed Plum Tea Crazy and now feel the need to have a tea party utilizing Childs’ recipes and tips included at the back of the book. I recommend Plum Tea Crazy to longtime fans of the series as well as any cozy reader, especially those who enjoy tea.