Sunday, January 18, 2015
Tea for Three
The title: Tea for Three (includes Death by Darjeeling, Gunpowder Green and Shades of Earl Grey)
The author: Laura Childs
Publication: Berkley, 2001, 2002, 2003
Got it from: Indigo Saint John, 2014
One of the things I have discovered about mystery series is that there are mysteries with themes and then there are themes with mysteries. The Tea Shop books definitely fall into the latter category. The main character/sleuth in these stories is Theodosia Browning, an outgoing 36-year-old entrepreneur who runs the Indigo Tea Shop in historic Charleston, South Carolina. Besides being a crack shopkeeper, Theodosia is also deeply involved in the lives of her friends and neighbours, who have a habit of killing each other for some fairly flimsy reasons. Like many cozy detective stories, the mystery often takes a backseat to the setting.
And what a setting! Let me first start with the Indigo Tea Shop itself. It is the kind of tea shop that dreams are made of. Theodosia's employees include a gentle, grandfatherly tea expert named Drayton and an adorable pastry chef named Haley. While Theodosia often forgets about work to run around solving mysteries, her two employees run the shop without a hitch. There is always a kettle on the boil and batches of delicious scones being pulled out of the oven. Regulars are always dropping in to gossip and rave about the shop and drink tea by the fire. No one is ever angry, demanding or asking for a refund. Everyone is always neighborly and helpful. Let's face it, by the time I finished reading, I was ready to move in.
Then there is Charleston itself, a place that before I read these books, I wouldn't want to go anywhere near on account of the heat and humidity. But Laura Childs paints such a cozy picture of the city, with quaint shops and friendly shopkeepers and historic charm, that I now I want to go.
The mystery aspects of the books are, I'm afraid to say, not that great. The mysteries are fairly easy to solve and not super exciting. (In the third book I actually figured out who the perpetrator was in the first chapter, before they were even introduced or the crime was committed). I feel kind of bad saying this, because I did enjoy the books. If you're as into tea shops and as steeped (heh) in tea culture as I am, you will probably also love them. Bonus - you will get to learn about new teas to try and there are recipes for all the food described in the book. Yum!