I've written here before about my love of Laura Childs' tea-shop mystery novels. No surprise then that I recently ran across two other murder mystery series that dip a toe into the tea world.
Leslie Meier writes a popular series of mysteries lead by am affable character named Lucy Stone. Her latest (and 19th!), just published, is The English Tea Murder. The title baffles me a bit because tea barely makes an appearance in the book. It's kind of a running gag throughout the story that the women, Lucy and several college pals, are on a tour of England — a departure from the usual Lucy Stone setting in a town called Tinkers Cove — and their continued attempts to sit down for afternoon tea in London are repeatedly thwarted. When they finally do, at the Wolseley, alas, it's not necessarily worth having waded through this mostly dull tale. But at least they're smart enough to upgrade to champagne all around!
I've just started another novel which feels much more promising: Deanna Raybourn's Dark Road to Darjeeling. This fourth entry into her series involving an upper-class sleuth named Lady Julia Grey follows the very Nick-and-Nora couple to northeastern India to visit a friend. Raybourn's writing has drawn me in, and the book thus far is rewarding, including some amusing descriptions of tea and tea life in 1889:
"I thought we were forbidden from speaking his name," Portia said, handing me a cup of tea. The porters brewed up quantities of rank, black tea in tremendous cans every time we stopped. After three days of the stuff, I had almost grown to like it.
It already reminds me something of The Tea-Planter!