Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tea toast: the Tea Shop Mysteries

We all have our guilty pleasures, right? I'll confess to three right now: When no one's looking, I love to ... eat Cool Whip with a spoon (or, sometimes, my finger) right out of the carton, listen to Kenny Loggins' double album "Alive" (c'mon, it's a great concert recording), and read Laura Childs' Tea Shop Mystery novels.

The last one I do right out in the open anymore. I devour these books, and I'm not a huge murder-mystery buff. I enjoyed Agatha Christie novels when I was a teenager, but it never got beyond that. And the Laura Childs books are nothing that special — the plots are intriguing enough, the writing's OK and getting better — but I devour every one of them, and the tenth one was just published. The central character, the sleuth, is a woman named Theodosia Browning. She runs the Indigo Tea Shop in Charleston, S.C., where an awful lot of the upper crust tend to meet grisly ends in the first chapters. The joy of them is that the murder mystery is simply an excuse to hang out in Theo's fragrant tea shop; to discuss the creations of her assistant, Drayton, a "master tea blender"; and to describe the culinary concoctions of her cook, Hayley (recipes are printed in the back pages!). For me, a thirtysomething music journalist, it's all a little girly, for sure. And I can't reccommend them highly enough. I just got my sister hooked. Join in!

Theodosia, like her author — real name Gerry Schmitt (I'll never understand the penchant for pseudonyms in the paperback business) — is a former advertising and marketing exec. Schmitt used her marketing acumen to target her mystery books to the burgeoning tea culture (ahem). She also writes another series of mysteries with scrapbooking as the theme, and she just started a new one, the Cackleberry Club Mysteries, about three women chefs.

A toast to fun tea reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment