If you are a reader of e-books, do you subscribe to BookBub? That's a service that notifies you of free and discounted deals on e-books in your favorite genres. It was through BookBub that I learned of the delightful cozy mystery "A Scone to Die For," first in the Oxford Tearoom Mystery series by H.Y. Hanna.
Twenty-nine-year-old Gemma Rose, an Oxford grad, had been climbing the corporate ladder in Australia when she realized she wasn't enjoying life and decided to move back home to England to create a new life for herself. There, she sinks her savings into the Little Stables Tearoom in the Cotswolds village of Meadowford-on-Smythe. Assisted by her talented baker, Fletcher, and her dear friend Cassie, Gemma seems to be making a go of it, earning favor with the locals as well as the many tourists who pop by.
One day, a group of American tourists visit the tearoom, and one American guest nearly drives her to distraction with his rudeness. He snaps his fingers to call for attention, is loud and obnoxious, and even makes a grab for Cassie before leaving the tearoom. The rude American—and Gemma is quick to note he is the exception and not the rule—is found the next morning sitting outside the tearoom, dead. Naturally, Gemma finds herself right in the middle of the search for the man's murderer, an investigation that is further complicated for her when one of the detectives turns out to be an old flame.
Like the best cozies, this one kept me guessing who the killer was, with plenty of red herrings thrown in to keep things interesting. Hanna is particularly adept at crafting likable characters and a strong sense of place. I learned some new things about Oxford, and I could practically taste the Chelsea buns as, under the tutelage of Fletcher, she "kneaded the sticky dough and then spread it out and sprinkled the cinnamon, raisins, currants, and rich muscovado sugar across the surface."
While I've visited several English tearooms, I've yet to visit the Cotswalds. Until I can get there, I'm quite happy to have discovered a charming new cozy mystery series that will allow me to take tea in the Cotswalds at my leisure. If you decide to read the book for yourself, I'd love to hear what you think!