Death of a Wandering Wolf
A Hungarian Tea Room Mystery, Book #2
By Julia Buckley
Author Website: juliabuckley(.)com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Hana Keller is enjoying a day off from serving up tea and delicious pastries at her family’s Hungarian Tea House when her downtime turns deadly….
The only thing Hana loves more than a good cuppa is finding a delicate porcelain treasure to add to her collection. She’s usually on the hunt for teacups but when she spots a rare wolf figurine at a local yard sale, she knows it’s her lucky day. Hana also knows the wolf is valuable and tells the seller that he’s charging too little for it. His reaction is peculiar–he says he received the wolf from someone he doesn’t trust and he just wants it out of his life.
Hana is inspecting her new prize when she finds a tiny microchip attached to the bottom of the porcelain wolf. When she shows the figure to her police detective boyfriend, Erik, Hana is shocked to learn that the chip is actually a tracking device. They decide to confront the seller about the sneaky sale but when they arrive at his house, they find him dead. Erik and Hana now must hunt a calculating killer who has no intentions of crying wolf when it comes to murder.
Reading this cozy mystery brings a mixture of pure enjoyment, suspense, and armchair sleuthing. I appreciate the three generations of women in this Hungarian Tea Room. They and other characters are defined very well, and I really enjoyed meeting a couple special new people! The mystery was certainly a hard one to solve!
Hana, her mother Magda, and grandmother Juliana run Maggie’s Tea House in Ridgewood, just outside of Chicago. Magda and Hana are coming to terms with their second sight gift that has come from Hana’s great-grandmother Natalia. Juliana had hidden her gift for years at Magda’s request, and only recently began reading tea leaves at some of the special tea house events. Hana dates a wonderful man, Erik Wolf, a police detective she met after a murder at the tea house a couple months ago.
Hana and best friend Katie went to an estate sale at the home of William Kodaly. He was selling many of his paintings for $25 each, and many other elegant treasures. Hana, who collects various teacups and other objets d’art, saw a wolf figurine and, knowing it was worth far more than the seller requested, tried to offer him more money. To him, it represented bad memories of the giver, so would sell it at his asking price. She and Katie also purchased a couple of his paintings. As they talked, they learned that he was from Hungary, as her grandparents had been, and he knew of her family.
Shortly afterwards, Erik stopped by and she showed him the wolf. The first thing he noticed is that a tracking device is attached to it, and concerned for her safety, they returned to the man’s home, arriving just on time to see a woman running out of the home crying. Erik went in and quickly came back out, calling for backup. In the hour since Hana had left, the man had been murdered.
Later, Juliana and Magda said they knew of William Kodaly as he had dated several women in their groups, but he never settled down with just one. All of them remained friends with him. Magda had even posed for him once and the painting auctioned off for a charity.
Hana was having coffee with Falken, owner of her favorite antique shop. He was familiar with Kodaly’s art; many of his paintings sell for tens of thousands. When Hana mentioned her grandmother, an older man at the café came to meet Hana. He knew of Juliana and her mother Natalia from the old country, as he was also from Hungary. Henrik Sipos said they were much beloved there. He and his elderly mother had attended Natalia’s funeral. He said that if ever they needed anything, to contact him, and gave her his business card. Within days, an attempt was made on Hana’s life, and Erik is very concerned about keeping her safe, especially when a man was seen trying to get into her apartment building. It is the man who was on a dark painting of Kodaly’s that had been stolen from display, showing him stalking a woman’s home. Is the man who killed Kodaly stalking her?
The characters in this novel are a pure delight and defined with care. Hana’s family has an excellent blend of their Hungarian roots and her father’s intellectual pursuits. I was happy to see her brother Domo and his introverted girlfriend Maggie. I especially enjoyed meeting Erik’s twin sisters, Thyra and Runa, and hope we see much more of them and their unique talents! In the space of the first two novels in the series so far, I am invested in these characters.
The setting is displayed well. Most of the novel takes place in Riverwood, and some in Chicago. While we don’t see as much of the Tea House this time, I enjoyed the time it was given. Hana is very good at investigating a crime! She has great instincts and finds important clues that help put everything together. I did not know who the killer was, no matter how hard I thought it through. The ending offered interesting surprises and was satisfactory with all loose ends tied up. I highly recommend this novel and series!