Murder Marks the Page

Tomes & Tea Mystery #1

By Karen Rose Smith

ISBN 9781496747037


The first in a new series spun off from the Daisy Tea Garden Mysteries, Daisy’s daughter Jazzi Swanson has opened her own book and tea shop, providing a variety of literature and flavored beverages for a rural New York community. But Jazzi has not only inherited her mother’s gift for brewing tasty drinks—she also has a nose for sniffing out murder.

New York State’s Belltower Landing is a lakeside resort town where tourists spend their summer days boating, floating, and paddle-boarding on the water. It’s also the perfect place to cuddle up with a good book and enjoy a cup of tea, courtesy of Tomes & Tea. Owned and operated by Jazzi and her best friend Dawn Fernsby, the book bar is beloved by vacationers and locals alike, but browsers grabbing brews in the off season aren’t enough to help them make ends meet.

Between brainstorming social media publicity ideas for the shop and fending off flirtatious men she has no interest in or time for, Jazzi befriends a woman named Brie who has recently made contact with her biological father. As an adopted child herself, Jazzi is more than happy to give Brie emotional support, especially as her wealthy father’s wife and children see her as a threat.

But Brie is also looking to start a family of her own. Unfortunately, all the potential princes she’s met through a dating app turn out to be frogs. Then, when Brie is found murdered, Jazzi finds herself playing detective. With a list of suspects ranging from jealous half-siblings to less-than-suitable suitors, Jazzi may need to consult some of her shop’s bestselling mysteries to help her uncover a killer . . .

Includes delicious recipes!


This novel is an excellent start to a new cozy mystery series. The characters invited me in on the first page and kept my attention throughout. I enjoyed getting to know the characters, especially Jazzi, who co-owns her dream business with her best friend, Dawn. She is a delightful, independent young woman living in Dawn’s hometown, Belltower Landing, in New York. I enjoyed hearing about Jazzi’s conversations with her mother and stepfather, from the Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery series, and was pleased how supportive and respectful they were of her independence.

The regular characters are developed well; each are engaging and reflected through their actions and realistic conversations. Peripheral characters and summer tourists are described as befitting their roles. I liked how Jazzi was up front with guys about choosing to not date anyone at this time when a couple guys were interested. I am confident that a good guy might be closer than anticipated as she heals from past events. Jazzi has the close companionship of other women. She was determined to stay out of a police investigation, but things about it simply kept drawing her attention.

I totally enjoyed meeting Zander and Freya, the girls’ kittens, especially watching how each was acquired! The author’s love for and knowledge about cats shines through, and her word pictures helped me imagine the delightful kittens who play hard and rest adorably.

Tomes & Teas is exactly what the name implies. Jazzi and Dawn maintain an excellent stock with the ability to quickly acquire specialty items when needed. I had never thought about the variety of books in a bookstore beyond what my interests are, and appreciated learning about special volumes for local events and interests, such as the Welcome Summer Festival and the regatta. It was interesting to get a glimpse of book signings and authors.

Jazzi and Dawn were both adopted as babies, and each had unique experiences. One of their friends at their book club asked Jazzi if she would be willing to meet Brie, a friend who was deciding whether to meet her birth father. Jazzi had found her birth mother several years earlier and had a good relationship with her and an even better one with her adoptive mother. Brie’s mother died when she was born, and her adoptive parents had given her a loving, affirming home. If Brie met her birth father, one reason was to find out her medical history as she wanted to get married and have children. Jazzi liked Brie and felt they would become good friends. 

Brie was going to meet her father the following night, and Jazzi planned to talk with her after the weekend to see how their meeting went. Monday morning, however, Jazzi got a call from Delaney, the friend who introduced her to Brie. She had gone to see how Brie’s weekend was, and found her dead. She had been murdered.

Jazzi, Dawn, and Delaney were shaken by Brie’s death. Brie’s adoptive parents were devastated, and her mother reached out to Jazzi. They stayed in close contact, and Jazzi helped her pack and clean out Brie’s townhouse. Jazzi initially refused to do any snooping into the murder, even when Brie’s mother had serious concerns about her wealthy biological father and his family, and the detective wouldn’t update her on the investigation.

This mystery was intriguing and I continually changed my pet suspect list. The resolution brought surprises and sad motives. I was very pleased with the end (despite my pet bad guys being innocent), and definitely want to see much more of Jazzie, Dawn, and their shop. I highly recommend this mystery!