Friday, March 30, 2018

Tea Lovers' Book Club: "Plum Tea Crazy" by Laura Childs

Summary: In the 19th (!) tea shop mystery from Laura Childs, we find Theodosia and Drayton at the Charleston mansion of historical society bigwig Timothy Neville. They’re among the guests gathered to view the Gaslight and Galleons Parade in the harbor, and as they watch from the widow’s walk of Timothy’s house, a fellow guest, Charleston banker Carson Lanier, falls to his death. They soon learn he was shot—and by a crossbow.

My thoughts: I must confess it’s hard for me to even pretend to be objective about Laura Childs’s tea shop mysteries, because discovering the first book in the series, Death by Darjeeling, back in 2001 is what turned me from a nonfiction-only reader into a fiction fan! And I enjoyed this latest installment for the reason I have enjoyed all the others: terrific characters, plenty of red herrings, and lovely tea room plots and imaginative tea party menus. (And while I am well aware that traditionally published authors don’t often get much say in the look of their book covers, I must say that this one is glorious—my favorite so far. From the silver teapot with pink roses to the macarons in the teacup, it hits all the right notes.)

The judgment: This one's definitely a winner, and one of my favorite things about this book was the new characters it introduced, including Jamie, Hailey’s cousin, and Alexis, the owner of a new Japanese art gallery. In my town, the retail life waxes and wanes just like this, with new faces constantly coming and going, and I like how Theodosia and company are always welcoming to the newcomers. Even one who calls Drayton “Dude,” which cracked me up!

For discussion:

• This story literally started with a bang, and I was surprised (but not bothered) to find an early focus on the actual murder, since most cozy mystery murders occur offscreen. What did you think about the opening scene?

• Who are you favorite characters in this series? Mine are definitely Theo and Drayton. There’s a haughty yet somehow likable fellow in my town who reminds me so much of Drayton that I picture him every time Drayton is mentioned. Do you have strong mental images of the characters?

• All those mentions of plums made me want to try a new plum tea. The one I used to adore was called Snow Monkey Plum, and I don’t know who made it, only that the tearoom that served it is now closed. Do you like plum-flavored teas? Have one to recommend?

Next Month's Book: I’m going with another tea-themed mystery next month, simply because I’ve read so many good things about Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes by Karen Rose Smith that I have to check it out for myself. I hope you’ll join me in reading it, and we’ll discuss it here on April 27.


  1. I haven't read this newest Laura Child's book yet, but I'm looking forward to it. I've loved all the others in this series, I don't know anyone who reminds me of Drayton (more's the pity) but I do have an image of him in my mind. I already have the April book but haven't read it yet. I'll look forward to discussing it at the end of the month.

  2. I also have all the books in this series. Upon a trip to Charleston several years ago, I happened upon a dress shop whose owner must have been the inspiration for Delaine---flamboyant, chic, flitting around making customer suggestions.

    I was a bit disappointed with the plot of this one this time---there were, to me, several settings left untied at the end of the book, like the "attack" on the one of the characters.

    Wish the Laura Childs would write a holiday-themed story. Charleston and the Indigo Tea Shop are the perfect setting for a Christmas mystery.

  3. I haven't read the book yet but I am a devoted fan of Laura Child's teashop mystery series. In my mind I always picture Tim Gunn (from TV's "Project Runway") as Drayton with his grey hair and bowtie with glasses and slender build. (Side note : I can't find an apostrophe on my Kindle keyboard!)

  4. The only plum tea I’ve had was also at a tea room. I’ll have to google and see what I can find.

  5. I just pick up a copy of Murder with Lemon Teacakes. I better start reading to be ready for April 27! Looking forward to reading it!

  6. I've read all the other tea shop mysteries by Laura Childs, and have enjoyed them very much. I was a little disappointed with this one, however, as parts of it seemed to have degenerated into cartoonishness. Ms. Childs chose to use comic-book sound effects in all caps on numerous occasions--this lowered the tone of the whole book, I thought. And the knock-down, drag-out fight between the two women at the fashion show was ridiculous. I hope the author refrains from such silliness in her next book in this series.
    I do enjoy her recurring characters, and I, too, have a friend who reminds me of Drayton. The best plum tea I have ever had was at Zannchi, a Korean restaurant here in Washington, DC. It had very thin slices of plum in it, and it was wonderful!
    --from Vernona in DC

  7. I was really disappointed that our public library didn't have any of Karen Rose Smith's books in the epubs! I'll just have to buy a copy, I guess! ;) I adore Laura Child's teashop mysteries! :)

  8. I have this book on my wish list. Sounds like a good one and I do enjoy Laura Child's tea mysteries!

  9. We are excited to welcome author Karen Rose Smith to Sweet Remembrances in late August for a book signing and evening tea. I look forward to your thoughts about this new series.

  10. Correction: I meant to say in my sidenote that I can't find a comma on my Kindle keyboard. But NOW....there it is at the top of the keyboard in the black border! At last I can use/misuse/abuse all punctuation marks.


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