Monday, March 3, 2008
A new "tea shop mystery" from Laura Childs
I'll never forget the fun of first discovering Laura Childs' "tea shop mystery" books. I was standing in Scott's Bookstore waiting to interview an author who was there for a book signing. He had a long line of folks waiting for autographs, so I wandered the bookstore checking out the latest reads. But the line was longgggg. After I'd memorized the bestseller racks, I eventually turned to the shelves of paperback mysteries, a section of the bookstore I rarely visited. That's when I spotted "Death by Darjeeling." A mystery centered around a tea shop? Count me in!
That first book came out in 2001, and I have been happily reading the series ever since. I've even re-read a few of the early ones, and that's saying something. Despite the fact these are murder mysteries, they are what I call good clean reading, and I always learn a few things about tea in the process. The main character is Theodosia Browning, owner of Charleston's Indigo Tea Shop. She is a charming entrepreneur who always seems to find herself at the center of the civic and cultural life in Charleston.
The latest book, "The Silver Needle Murder," centers around the Charleston Film Festival, and Theodosia's tea shop is catering a number of affairs in conjunction with the event. On opening night, a famous director is murdered onstage at the festival, and as usual, there are lots of suspects. (Also as usual, I spotted the killer in the first few chapters, but then I don't read these books for the mystery, I read them for the tea.) And who cares who really killed the director? What I really care about is getting hold of some Silver Needle Tea: "Picked in early spring," writes Childs, "its dried leaves resembled white pine needles. Brewing yielded a pale yellow tea with a delicious buttery almond flavor." Looks like I'll be paying a visit to my own "Indigo Tea Shop" pretty soon!