A Dark and Stormy Tea
Tea Shop Mystery #24
By Laura Childs
Author Website: laurachilds(.)com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
It was a dark and stormy night, but that was the least of Theodosia Browning’s troubles. As she approaches St. Philips Graveyard, Theodosia sees two figures locked in a strange embrace. Wiping rain from her eyes, Theodosia realizes she has just witnessed a brutal murder and sees a dark-hooded figure slip away into the fog.
In the throes of alerting police, Theodosia recognizes the victim–it is the daughter of her friend, Lois, who owns the Antiquarian Bookshop next door to her own Indigo Tea Shop.
Even though this appears to be the work of a serial killer who is stalking the back alleys of Charleston, Lois begs Theodosia for help. Against the advice of her boyfriend, Detective Pete Riley, and the sage words of Drayton, her tea sommelier, amateur-sleuth Theodosia launches her own shadow investigation. And quickly discovers that suspects abound with the dead girl’s boyfriend, nefarious real estate developer, private-security man, bumbling reporter, and her own neighbor who is writing a true-crime book and searching for a big ending. (Goodreads)
Inclement weather and a potential serial killer on the loose make A Dark and Stormy Tea a slightly darker than usual read in this twenty-fourth entry in the charming Tea Shop Mystery series. Murder in a graveyard sets the stage, and a heavy eeriness drapes protagonist Theodosia as the body count rises and the suspect list grows.
When Theodosia witnesses a stabbing in a graveyard on her way home from work, she cannot help but be thrown into the investigation, especially when the victim’s mother, who is a friend, asks her to look into things. Theo has suspects in mind but the proof she needs is hard to come by. With information from her detective boyfriend Pete and with tea sommelier Drayton by her side, she does all she can, even if that sometimes means putting herself in peril, to unmask a killer.
I have been a fan of the Tea Shop mysteries from the first book’s publication. The Charleston setting, this time ominously gloomy, is a character itself. I do so wish that the Indigo Tea Shop was a real place I could patronize. Oh, the descriptions of the food, décor, and themed teas capture my imagination and my taste buds! Is there anything better than sitting down by a cozy fire with a cuppa and scone?
After twenty-four books, the recurring characters in this series have become like old friends. Drayton is one of my favorite characters in literature. I just love his Southern gentleman, Luddite ways. Plus, I always learn fabulous tea tidbits from him. Theodosia is smart, observant, and nosy…all traits that make her a successful amateur sleuth. It does seem as the series goes on that she skirts the law more and more, and she sometimes comes across as too bold and accusatory. Perhaps my memory is faulty, but she used to seem much more genteel with manners. I do continue to feel quite loyal to all of the characters, even Detective Tidwell and the horrible Delaine. The characters central to this mystery are dislikable but fitting for the story. I am curious about Theo’s new neighbor Nick and hope to see more of him in future installments.
The threat that a serial killer has returned and the new murders, along with the weather, give A Dark and Stormy Tea a more serious, dangerous vibe. It is, however, still very much a cozy mystery. There are several suspects to consider, but the clues are pretty subtle. I picked out whodunit early on, but it took me a while to work out their motive. As always, I enjoyed investigating alongside Theo.
A Dark and Stormy Tea is a worthy addition to an entertaining long-running series. I look forward to Theodosia and crew’s next adventure. It can be read as a standalone, but I encourage any cozy mystery fan to read this delightful series. Highly recommended!