Lavender Blue Murder
Tea Shop Mystery, Book #21
By Laura Childs
Author Website: laurachilds(.)com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
Tea maven Theodosia Browning and her tea sommelier Drayton Conneley are guests at a bird hunt styled in the precise manner of an English shooting party. Which means elevenses (sloe gin fizzes), gun loaders, the drawing of pegs, fine looking bird dogs, and shooting costumes of tweed, herringbone, and suede.
But as gunshots explode like a riff of Black Cat firecrackers, another shot sounds too close for comfort to Theodosia and Drayton. Intrigued but worried, Theodosia wanders into the neighbor’s lavender field where she discovers their host, Reginald Doyle, bleeding to death.
His wife, Meredith, is beside herself with grief and begs Theodosia and Drayton to stay the night. But Theodosia awakens at 2:00A.M. to find smoke in her room and the house on fire. As the fire department screams in and the investigating sheriff returns, Meredith again pleads with Theodosia for help.
As Theodosia investigates, fingers are pointed, secrets are uncovered, Reginald’s daughter-in-law goes missing presumed drowned, and Meredith is determined to find answers via a séance. All the while Theodosia worries if she’s made a mistake in inviting a prime suspect to her upscale Lavender Lady Tea. (Goodreads)
In the twenty-first Tea Shop Mystery, Lavender Blue Murder, author Laura Childs takes readers on another splendid adventure featuring tea shop owner Theodosia as she navigates murder, a house fire, and a supposed kidnapping in charming Charleston, South Carolina.
The story opens with Theodosia and Drayton attending an English style shooting party hosted by pharmaceutical CEO Reginald Doyle. Everything is idyllic until their host is murdered, and his understandably shaken wife Meredith implores the pair to spend the night. Then the Doyle plantation home catches fire and Meredith begs Theo to investigate. As if the Doyles have not experienced enough tragedy, soon Meredith’s daughter-in-law goes missing (possibly presumed dead). Theo, with the assistance of her tea sommelier Drayton and her detective boyfriend Riley, uncovers plenty of suspects and secrets and faces more danger than ever before.
As one can imagine, after twenty-plus books, the recurring characters of the Tea Shop Mysteries feel like great, old friends. I always enjoy my time with Theodosia, Drayton, Hailey, Detective Tidwell, and Earl Grey, and Lavender Blue Murder is delightful in every way. The characters continue to grow without losing their original appeal. I especially love Drayton and all his luddite fussiness, and Earl Grey the dog is always a treat. The new characters central to this story are varied and well developed even when they are not particularly likable. I feel a lot of sympathy for Meredith as she navigates her situation.
The mystery of Reginald’s murder, and subsequent events, is well thought out and executed. I changed my mind several times about the villain’s identity, and I was somewhat surprised as the climactic revelation unfolded. The story moves along at a brisk pace, riveting from the first scene to the last. I particularly love Child’s attention to detail to all things tea – the descriptions of the party themes, china and table settings, tea, and food make me long to visit the Indigo Tea Shop. And, I would be remiss to not mention Child’s obvious love of Charleston; the city is the perfect backdrop, and I cannot imagine the series in any other setting.
Lavender Blue Murder is wonderful cozy mystery reading. Highly recommended.