zondag 13 maart 2011

Laura Childs – The teaberry strangler

Book 11 in the Tea Shop Mysteries series, published in paperback March 2011.


The narrow cobblestone alleys of Charleston are bustling with shoppers looking for bargains on antiques, heaping bowls of crab chowder – and of course Theodosia Browning’s delicious teas. But when the clock strikes ten, the alleys clear, except for one body – discovered by a horrified Theodosia. It’s the strangled form of Darcia, the map store’s owner.
Many locals have shown interest in buying Darcia’s shop - but enough to kill? Plus there’s the customer hell-bent on getting his hands on a certain not-for-sale map. One can hardly throw a scone without hitting a suspect. Most alarming however, is Detective Tidwell’s theory that the killer mistook Darcia for Theodosia. Because that would mean the killer’s work isn’t yet done…

After stumbling upon a murder in progress, Theodosia is determined not to get involved this time. But when her own dear aunt asks her to investigate, as the victim’s mother is her best friend, she has no choice. Detective Tidwell is not forthcoming with information, and he even implies the killer made a mistake, that he or she was after Theodosia herself instead. Darcia did look a bit like Theodosia, and the murder happened close to her shop after all. And he is very busy with a binge of truck thefts he has to solve.
Then there is the new perfumery on the block, with two very original ladies running it. And even though they aren’t open for business officially yet, they are very determined to rent the map shop next door as well. And they want Theodosia to help them get it!
But Theodosia has other concerns: her ex-boyfriend Jory wants back in her life, even though she is happy with her new boyfriend. And what is Jory’s ex-girlfriend still doing in Charleston, and looking at Theodosia with such hatred? Could she be behind the latest attack on Theodosia? Is she the murderer?
Theodosia is ready to sign the contracts for the lovely cottage she has found, but the owner is stalling. Then, when Earl Grey finds a human bone in the yard, everything is set on hold. An archaeologist wants to dig up her garden, as it could be a site of historical importance. Hanged pirates may be buried there! So Theodosia is not happy with that, but has no choice but to wait it out. In her mind she is busy decorating the place, making it her own. And Haley wants to move in the apartment above the teashop where Theodosia and Earl Grey are living at the moment.
Nadine is also back in town, the sister of Delaine, owner of the Cotton Duck, the boutique where Theodosia buys most of her clothes. Is she still stealing stuff? And then there is this sleazy journalist, printing lies about Theodosia having seen the killer. Doesn’t he think she will be in danger from that?

As usual, Theodosia, Drayton and Haley are busy with the teashop, and the catering business, as well the social obligations in the evenings. The Heritage Society, the Yachting Club, Charleston really is a busy city.

Another great story in this series I love so much. More tea-lore, and I just love the atmosphere in the Indigo Tea Shop and Charleston. If I ever get to America, this is a city I want to visit. The interaction between Theodosia, Drayton and Haley is great, they are good friends as well as colleagues, and the food Haley comes up with really makes me hungry. But not enough yet, to try out the delicious recipes in the back of the book.

I was a bit surprised by the ending of the book, just like Theodosia I had not figured out the murderer and the story behind it until she was attacked by that person. I really like Theodosia, she gave up her career in advertising to open her teashop, a long dream of her. And with a lot of hard work, and great colleagues, she has managed to pull it of. So yes, I admire her. I like a heroin who is a bit older than usual, independent, and smart. She knows what she wants, and what not. And she is great in puzzling things out. Drayton is a perfect secondary character, though almost a main one. He helps her with her ideas, and is a great back up. And a unique character in his own way.

When I want to meet the characters in a book, it means they are totally lifelike and well written. I love the quiet humor in her books, the atmosphere. Not really witty bantering like most books I read, but filled with joy nonetheless. Laura Childs is also an autobuy author for me, and I look forward to the new books in all three of her series.

8,5 stars.

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