Murder with Cucumber Sandwiches
Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery, Book #3
By Karen Rose Smith
Author Website: karenrosesmith(.)com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
Restaurant critic Derek Schumaker, notorious for his bitter reviews, is about to visit Daisy’s Tea Garden, and Daisy and Aunt Iris are simmering with anxiety. A bad word from the culinary curmudgeon could really hurt their business, but Daisy tries to stay confident. After all, how can he resist her cucumber sandwiches with pimento spread — not to mention the cheesy cauliflower soup and strawberry walnut salad? Schumaker takes a to-go order when the afternoon tea service is done, which Daisy hopes is a good sign. But when he perishes from a seizure, it looks like his food was dosed with something deadly. Considering a threat that recently appeared on his blog — and whispers of scandal in his past — Daisy has quite an assortment of suspects to sift through. (Goodreads)
Visiting Daisy’s Tea Garden is always a treat, and Murder with Cucumber Sandwiches finds one of my favorite imaginary shops struggling to maintain business and its reputation. Celebrity chef turned food critic/blogger Derek Schumaker is notorious for shredding the restaurants that he visits, leaving Daisy, Aunt Iris, and the whole staff on edge when he comes to review the Tea Garden. Daisy feels encouraged when David takes an order of sandwiches to go after his tea service. That optimism turns to horror when Derek dies, and her sandwiches are part of the murder weapon. Intent on saving her livelihood, she sets out to track down a killer. On top of the murder investigation, one of Daisy’s employees is acting quite atypical, her younger daughter is dealing with her birth mom, her older daughter wants to come home from college for a serious talk, and Daisy’s new relationship with Jonas is suffering under the weight of everything that is going on.
Daisy is a great protagonist. I like that she is a little older than a lot of cozy sleuths out there, and her maturity helps her be a better investigator. She is levelheaded and intelligent, balancing business, family, and murder well. All of the recurring characters are relatable and well drawn without a caricature or stereotype in sight. I particularly enjoy Aunt Iris, Daisy’s father Sean, and Jonas (even though he has an unsavory moment within these pages).
All of the personal drama takes precedence over the murder mystery this time around, and I wish there had been a little more to the mystery. Derek is a sufficiently unlikable victim, and there are plenty of suspects related to his bad mouthing habits, but the suspects closer to home seem stretched quite thin, and their motives half-hearted. I did not figure out whodunit before the big reveal, and I feel like it somewhat came out of nowhere.
All of the great things I have come to expect from this series – endearing characters, a foodie theme, and a lovely setting – are within the pages of Murder with Cucumber Sandwiches, and I look forward to reading what lies ahead for Daisy, her friends and family, and the Tea Garden. Even though it can be read as a standalone mystery, I do recommend reading the series from the beginning to fully appreciate the continuing story arc. Recommended to cozy readers who especially enjoy a culinary theme.