Murder with Cherry Tarts
Daisy’s Tea Garden #4
By Karen Rose Smith
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
Daisy’s worried one of her employees at Daisy’s Tea Garden may be in a spot of trouble. Lately Karina’s been loading up on soup and second-day baked goods at the end of her shift–and while the shop’s scrumptious treats may be hard to resist, Daisy suspects there’s more going on, especially since Karina has been seen hanging out in a rundown part of Willow Creek.
Planning her own daughter’s wedding is enough to keep her busy, but Daisy can’t help feeling a protective maternal instinct–and an instinct to investigate. It turns out Karina has been helping a down-on-his luck single dad who’s been making ends meet–barely–by selling antiques at a place called Pirated Treasures.
But when an employee at the antiques store is bludgeoned to death with a marble rolling pin, Karina’s new friend is suspect number one. Though the motives are muddy and steeped in intrigue, Daisy is more than determined to flush the real killer out. (Goodreads)
Murder with Cherry Tarts, the fourth book in the heartfelt Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery Series, is a nice addition with a clever mystery and lots of emphasis on the characters.
Daisy is curious about what one of her employees, suddenly secretive, is doing with the shop’s leftovers at the end of each day. When she and her boyfriend Jonas follow Karina after work one day, they discover that she is feeding a homeless man and his daughter. After hearing Keith’s story, Jonas and Daisy do what they can to help the little family out, but things get complicated when a local shop’s employee is murdered and single dad Keith is named the prime suspect. Already busy with her daughter’s upcoming wedding, Daisy dedicates herself to finding out the truth and clearing Keith’s name.
This series is endearing and entertaining, and Murder with Cherry Tarts is quite good. Even though the mystery is prominently featured, the relationships between the characters are the real focus. I find the thread about Daisy’s daughter Vi and her betrothed Forrest’s wedding and imminent parenthood somewhat distracting. I do not particularly care for small children recurring in my cozy mysteries – I am sure this makes me a bad guy, but it nevertheless moves the story forward. It just takes a lot more time away from the investigation of the murder than I would prefer.
That said author Smith does a fine job with character development. I feel like all of the recurring characters are realistic and appealing, like I am a voyeur into the private lives of a neighboring family. Everyone has plenty of baggage that they carry around, but their circumstances and flaws make them all the more believable. Daisy truly cares about those around her – family, friends, customers, and acquaintances – and her heart is big and full of compassion and love. She is a smart investigator who relies as much on her gut instinct as her intellect. He love interest Jonas, with his police background, is an excellent partner, both romantically and in sleuthing. The supporting cast of characters is equally appealing and helps round out the story.
The identity of the killer took me by surprise. There are a good number of people for Daisy to investigate and plenty of red herring to keep readers guessing. I like that a bit of Civil War history is woven into the tale. The murder investigation, Keith’s predicament, Vi’s wedding, and younger daughter Jazzi’s continued quest to build a relationship with her birth mother make the story compelling.
I enjoyed Murder with Cherry Tarts and look forward to Daisy’s next adventure.