A Tea Shop Mystery
by Laura Childs
About Haunted Hibiscus
Tea maven Theodosia Browning brews up trouble in the latest Tea Shop Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs.
It is the week before Halloween and Theodosia Browning, proprietor of the Indigo Tea Shop, and her tea sommelier, Drayton, are ghosting through the dusk of a cool Charleston evening on their way to the old Bouchard Mansion. Known as the Gray Ghost, this dilapidated place was recently bequeathed to the Heritage Society, and tonight heralds the grand opening of their literary and historical themed haunted house.
Though Timothy Neville, the patriarch of the Heritage Society, is not thrilled with the fund-raising idea, it is the perfect venue for his grandniece, Willow French, to sign copies of her new book, Carolina Crimes & Creepers.
But amid a parade of characters dressed as Edgar Allan Poe, Lady Macbeth, and the Headless Horseman, Willow's body is suddenly tossed from the third-floor tower room and left to dangle at the end of a rope. Police come screaming in and Theodosia's boyfriend, Detective Pete Riley, is sent to Willow's apartment to investigate. But minutes later, he is shot and wounded by a shadowy intruder.
Timothy begs Theodosia to investigate, and shaken by Riley's assault, she readily agrees. Now, she questions members of the Heritage Society and a man who claims the mansion is rightfully his, as well as Willow's book publisher and her fiancé, all while hosting a Sherlock Holmes tea and catering several others.
But the Gray Ghost holds many secrets, as do several other key suspects, while this murder mystery plays out on the eve of Halloween.
INCLUDES DELICIOUS RECIPES AND TEA TIME TIPS!
About Laura Childs
Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fundraising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.
Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:
The Tea Shop Mysteries – set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She’s also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn’t rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.
The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans’ spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!
The Cackleberry Club Mysteries – set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe’s undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.
Haunted Hibiscus by Laura Childs is the 13th A Tea Sop Mystery. It can be read as a standalone for those who are new to the series or have missed a book or two. I look forward to reading the latest Tea Shop Mystery each year. This first cozy mystery that I read was Death by Darjeeling and I have been hooked on cozy mysteries since then. Theodosia Browning is back with Drayton and Haley for a new adventure. The Heritage Society inherited the Bouchard house and has turned it into a literary-and-history inspired haunted house. Theodosia and Drayton are attending the opening night when a scream rings out. Willow French, author and Timothy Neville’s niece, is hanging from a rope out of third story window. Theodosia quickly calls Detective Pete Riley who arrives with Detective Tidwell. Pete gets dispatched to the victim’s apartment where he is shot. Theodosia is determined to uncover the identity of the guilty party. I thought Haunted Hibiscus was well-written with developed, engaging characters and a beautiful setting. I look forward to catching up with Theodosia, Drayton, Haley, and Earl Grey with each new book. The author captures Charleston, South Carolina with her vivid descriptions. I was drawn into Haunted Hibiscus from the very first page. The mystery was intriguing. There are several viable suspects. Any one of them could have committed the crime. I enjoyed the subtle clues. You must pay close attention if you are going to catch them and see how they relate to the whodunit (if you want to solve the crime). There is action that keeps things suspenseful plus helps propel the book forward toward the delightful conclusion. There were some fascinating revelations as well as a little twist (or two). There is humor mixed into the story as well. There are mouthwatering food descriptions as well as tasty teas. I liked learning more about the tea blends that Drayton serves and unique information about tea trays. I did not want Haunted Hibiscus to end. I am looking forward to reading Twisted Tea Christmas in October. Haunted Hibiscus is a charming Southern cozy mystery with tasty teas, haunted happenings, an energetic Earl Grey, a wounded detective, a tenacious Tidwell, curious clues, and a haunted house.
The Avid Reader