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by Laura Childs
Berkley, March 2019
336 pages
ISBN: 0451489632

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Laura Childs has added the 20th episode to the Tea Shop Mystery series and I am ready to admit she's a pro all the way. Her protagonist, Theodosia Browning, is well-drawn and carefully developed, as is Theodosia's tea-guru and right-hand man in the Indigo Tea Shop. Childs is wonderfully familiar with the landscape and charms of Charleston NC and a good writer and an able plotter.

This is not to say that there is anything reasonable or realistic about the situations that Theodosia finds herself in. The opening murders are almost, but not quite, as far-fetched as the one in PLUM TEA CRAZY. That, however, has nothing to do with the price of a tea cosy. It's a romp and both entertaining and fun.

The novel opens with Theodosia and Drayton (white-knuckled and regretting having come along, of course) floating through the lovely skies in a hot air balloon which is one of several aloft. Out of the periphery they spot the approach of a drone that appears to be hovering near first one and then another balloon as if searching for something or someone. Horridly, the drone finds what it's seeking and dives into the balloon causing its gas to explode and the whole to burst into flames and plummet to the ground. Those on board are dismally dead.

No respecter of law enforcement regulations, Theodosia plunges head first into asking people all sorts of questions, coming to conclusions, thinking a bit and dumping her conclusions, and heading right back out to find more answers and evidence. This is the basic formula of this series but there is much charm in the setting and the tea not to mentions the delectable foods and Theodosia and Drayton are always on the side of the good guys whether they cooperate with them or not.

Okay, she'd be jailed in my city for interfering with the police investigation in my town but she's not in my town and all ends well in this imaginative and well-paced story.

Diana Borse is retired from teaching English at Texas A&M University-Kingsville and savoring the chance to read as much as she always wanted to.

Reviewed by Diana Borse, March 2019

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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