Recently I’ve been re-visiting a lot of the Cozy (and almost-Cozy) series that I’ve enjoyed over the years. I have written previous posts talking about these books: Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie Mystery Series and “Jessica Fletcher” & Donald Bain: Murder She Wrote Mysteries are two such examples. My most recent re-visit is Death by Darjeeling, the first book in Laura Childs‘ Tea Shop Mystery Series.
The Tea Shop Mystery Series stars Theodosia Browning, former advertising executive and current owner/manager of Charleston’s Indigo Tea Shop. When a customer of a local tour dies suspiciously after having a drink of Theo’s special tea blend, her business begins to suffer. To make things worse, the investigator in charge seems to think that Theo’s part time worker might be responsible… or maybe even Theo herself!
Aside from Theo herself, the Indigo Tea Shop staff includes, Drayton, somewhat fussy but nevertheless loveable master tea taster, and Haley, a part-time college students who serves as both the clerk and the baker for the shop. Also of particular note is Earl Grey, Theo’s darling adopted dog. The series also has a regular cast of backup characters such as Delaine Dish, local gossip, and Jory Davis, lawyer and love interest.
One of the great things about local based Cozies like the Tea Shop mysteries is that they give a strong sense of location. Childs works hard to make Charleston almost a character in and of itself. Childs sprinkles in plenty of verifiable facts, such as the ownership of the Charleston Tea Plantation, that quickly give her an air of authority about Charleston, helping the reader feel like they are truly immersing themselves in the location.
Overall, I would say that the one word that most summarizes the Tea Shop mysteries is charm. The Tea Shop mysteries excel because of the rich and vibrant portrayal of both the characters and the setting as well as the mysteries themselves.
P.S. If you’re interested in other entries about some highly recommended Cozy Mystery series, you can see them on the Most Recommended Cozy Mystery Series page on my site.