The Diva Serves High Tea
A Domestic Diva Mystery #10
By Krista Davis
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
When The Parlour opens up in town, domestic diva Sophie Winston finally has a place to satisfy her cravings for all things tea and crumpet related. And the shop serves as the perfect place for the ladies of the town to gather and gossip, especially since it’s conveniently located right across the street from the new antique store run by the handsome and charming Robert Johnson.
But speculation around Robert really boils over when he’s found dead—a victim of poisoning after attending a literacy fundraiser at The Parlour the night before. What Sophie learns about the man leaves a bitter taste in her mouth, and she’ll have to strain out a killer from a strange brew of suspects… (Goodreads)
Even though The Diva Serves High Tea is the tenth entry in the fantastic Domestic Diva Mystery series, the plot and characters are as fresh as ever. The picturesque Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, setting, the homey atmosphere, the tea tidbits, and the murder that kept me guessing until the very end all make this quite an enjoyable read, perhaps the best yet in the series.
The story gets off to an exciting start with a house break-in and does not slow down, except for the genteel pot of tea, until the last words are read. Old Town is abuzz with the grand opening of the The Parlour, the area’s new tea shop, and the handsome newcomer who is opening an antique shop across the street. Things begin to unravel when said newcomer, Robert Johnson, is found dead, the victim of botulism poisoning. Suspected as the source of the poison, The Parlour is temporarily closed. In addition, there is an attacker on the loose, romantic discord, another corpse, past sins revealed, and chickens. Sophie, with the help of her friends, sets out to find the truth. It is so hard not to give too much away here.
The Domestic Diva series has been among my most favorite reads since its inception. I cannot believe this is the tenth book. As I mention above, this installment is still innovative and as interesting as the first book, The Diva Runs Out of Thyme. Though I think it can be read as a standalone mystery, readers will want to savor every word of the series from the very beginning. Ms. Davis imparts wit and humor throughout, and the secrets of the victim and those associated with him are revealed bit by bit, keeping me guessing until almost the last page. It is rare that I question the motive and murderer so much during a book, and I loved every twist and turn.
Most of the recurring characters make appearances (I keep waiting for Sophie’s next door neighbor Nina’s husband to show up someday), and they all feel like old friends. Sophie’s kitchen is the ideal, cozy place to gather with companions and good food. With Sophie’s infinite hospitality, ability to whip up a meal or snack on demand, and her endless supply of beautiful dishes and linens, I could seriously spend all of my time there. Sophie is likable, intelligent, and relatable. Ex-husband Mars, old friend Bernie, Nina, and ex-boyfriend Wolf are always entertaining. Then there is Natasha, the true diva with a capital D, who is so over-the-top and impractical, and the frenemy that you cannot help but get a kick out of. Her mother Wanda comes to town, and she could not be any more different from Natasha. She is a hoot and terrific foil for her “perfect” daughter. Longtime readers of the series will rejoice at a certain occurrence in Chapter Four (again, I do not want to give anything away). Characters that are central to this particular mystery are also engaging, and I particularly enjoy precocious chef-in-the-making Kevin. Robert is exposed as a real scoundrel, and it is difficult to feel bad about his demise. The only shortcoming here is Alex, Sophie’s current love interest. I do not feel any chemistry between him and Sophie, and I think he handles everything poorly with his old friend Elise and Sophie.
I am a huge tea drinker and fan of all things related to sitting down with a cuppa so I really enjoy the “tea” aspect of the story. The tea tidbits at the beginning of every chapter are both informative and funny. I love the contrast in Sophie and Natasha’s responses to the questions posed. There are recipes included in the back of the book, and, as always, they all make my mouth water, particularly the lemon tarts and bacon cheddar scones. I will definitely be making these.
The Diva Serves High Tea is a great read, and I highly recommend it to fans of Krista Davis, those who enjoy a tightly woven mystery, and any cozy reader.