Murder with Oolong Tea
Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery #6
By Karen Rose Smith
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
In bestselling author Karen Rose Smith’s sixth delightfully devious Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery, Pennsylvania Amish country’s favorite tea house proprietor, Daisy Swanson, finds herself going back to school expecting to serve tea–only to get a crash course in criminal justice!
The faculty of Willow Creek High School are having a get-together after the spring concert with refreshments provided, courtesy of Daisy’s Tea Garden. Oolong tea and chocolate biscuits are just what the staff needs to help them unwind from Althea Higgins’ demanding curriculum. Her lessons on such controversial subjects as school uniforms and under qualified substitute teachers are earning her an F from her colleagues.
But a failing grade was preferable to Althea falling victim to foul play. Daisy was there when her body was discovered in the school swimming pool, murdered by strangulation. Althea was certainly a strict, opinionated taskmaster, unliked by both teachers and students, but would any of them actually want to kill her? As Daisy starts asking questions, she gets a real education in Althea’s history, discovering more than enough enemies with more than enough motives to cancel her classes permanently… (Goodreads)
This series just gets better and better with each addition. Murder with Oolong Tea, the sixth installment in Daisy’s Tea Garden series, is a delightful, cozy read full of family, food, and murder.
Tea Garden owner Daisy is busy as always with her tea shop and catering, family, and friends. When she agrees to cater a faculty appreciation tea at the local high school, she has no idea English Teacher Althea Higgins is about to die. Althea is found in the school pool but was strangled to death, and since she always had a problem with someone or something (most recently substitute teachers and school uniforms) there are plenty of potential suspects and motives. Daisy, who is worn down by her previous investigations, hesitates to get involved, but in the end she cannot help herself even though she simply wants to spend time with her new grandson and boyfriend Jonas instead. Things with Jonas are a bit rocky, though, as he deals with feelings of betrayal, both from his former police partner and inadvertently Daisy, too. In addition to Althea’s death, Daisy must deal with her younger daughter’s birth mother and Jazzi’s neglected friend.
Though the murder mystery is important, this is by far a character driven story, and I love all of them. Author Karen Rose Smith always does a great job with meaningful character development. I really enjoy spending time with Daisy and her friends, coworkers, and family. These characters feel genuine and like good friends after several books. Daisy is compassionate and truly wants to help people. This and her naturally curious nature make her an excellent amateur sleuth. She is pulled in many directions this time around, and I worried along with her about the state and future of her relationship with Jonas.
As unpleasant as Althea is, I still cared about her fate and felt compelled to find all of the answers right alongside Daisy. Red herrings abound, and I did not figure everything out before Daisy did. There are several subplots that eventually tie into Althea’s main storyline, and they are all masterfully woven together to make a solid, well resolved plot. The pace is brisk, and the sense of place is strong. As a tea lover, I enjoy all of the tea garden scenes and talk of food and drink. I finished reading this book with a strong craving for Blueberry Coffee Cake.
Murder with Oolong Tea is a splendid and diverting cozy mystery. Highly recommended to any fan of the cozy mystery genre, especially those who enjoy plenty of emphasis on food and family.