Broken Bone China
Tea Shop Mystery, Book #20
By Laura Childs
Author Website: www(.)laurachilds(.)com
It is Sunday afternoon, and Theodosia and Drayton are catering a formal tea at a hot-air balloon rally. The view aloft is not only stunning, they are also surrounded by a dozen other colorful hot-air balloons. But as the sky turns gray and the clouds start to boil up, a strange object zooms out of nowhere. It is a drone, and it appears to be buzzing around the balloons, checking them out.
As Theodosia and Drayton watch, the drone, hovering like some angry, mechanized insect, deliberately crashes into the balloon next to them. An enormous, fiery explosion erupts, and everyone watches in horror as the balloon plummets to the earth, killing all three of its passengers.
Sirens scream, first responders arrive, and Theodosia is interviewed by the police. During the interview she learns that one of the downed occupants was Don Kingsley, the CEO of a local software company, SyncSoft. Not only do the police suspect Kingsley as the primary target, they learn that he possessed a rare Revolutionary War Union Jack flag that several people were rabidly bidding on.
Intrigued, Theodosia begins her own investigation. Was it the CEO’s soon-to-be ex-wife, who is restoring an enormous mansion at no expense? The CEO’s personal assistant, who also functioned as curator of his prized collection of Americana? Two rival antiques’ dealers known for dirty dealing? Or was the killer the fiancé of one of Theodosia’s dear friends, who turns out to be an employee–and whistle-blower–at SyncSoft? (Goodreads)
Broken Bone China, the twentieth book in the Tea Shop Mystery Series, proves that a long running series does not have to become stale. I adore this installment with its requisite Charleston charm, delicious tea descriptions, and a murder investigation that keeps readers on their toes.
The story opens with Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia and her ever dependable tea sommelier Drayton catering a tea for The Flight Balloon Club and taking to the air in one of the hot air balloons. This gives them a clear view of a drone crashing into Software Company CEO Don Kingsley’s balloon, causing an explosion and swift descent that result in the tragic deaths of three people. His rare Revolutionary War era flag goes missing about the same time, and one cannot help but wonder if his death and the flag are related. Is one of the bidders hoping to buy the flag a murderer? Or Don’s employee Harold, a suspected whistleblower, to blame? Or his soon to be ex-wife? Or his personal assistant? Since she witnessed the disaster, and because her friend Angela’s fiancé Harold quickly becomes a top suspect, Theodosia investigates to unmask a killer.
The beauty of a long running series is that the characters become friends. I look forward to my time spent with Theodosia, Drayton, Haley, Detective Tidwell, and Theo’s dog Earl Grey. I have thought Theodosia has not been true to her character in the previous two books, but I am happy to report that she is back to her normal inquisitive and strong, yet genteel, Southern self. I adore Drayton and his gentlemanly refined ways and wish I knew as much as he does about tea. As much as any person, the Charleston, South Carolina, setting is a character itself. It is obvious to readers that author Laura Childs loves the city, and I relish her vivid descriptions of the architecture, gardens, and atmosphere. This is armchair travel at its best. Also, the details of the china place settings, food, and teas are delightful. I so wish that the Indigo Tea Shop was a real destination; I would be there in a heartbeat.
The mystery is complex enough to keep readers guessing, and second guessing, throughout the story. Kudos to Childs for keeping methods of murder novel. One does not read about death by drone…in a hot air balloon…every day. This creativity alone makes the mystery worth reading. The suspects are varied and some are intentionally unlikable.
Broken Bow China is a gratifying read sure to thrill long time fans of the series and new readers alike. Highly recommended.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*