Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am excited to share my thoughts on Laura Childs’ new Tea Shop Mystery, Haunted Hibiscus!
Haunted Hibiscus (A Tea Shop Mystery)
by Laura Childs
About Haunted Hibiscus
Haunted Hibiscus (A Tea Shop Mystery)
22nd in Series
Setting – South Carolina
Publisher: Berkley (March 2, 2021)
Hardcover: 336 pages
Kindle ASIN: B089S6MFBH
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!
It’s almost Halloween in Charleston, South Carolina and Theodosia and Drayton are excited to check out the literary and historical themed haunted house at the old Bouchard Mansion, also known as the Gray Ghost. The Heritage Society was recently bequeathed the place and thought the event would be a great fundraiser. In addition to the haunting characters Willow French, grand-niece of Timothy Neville, head of the Society is signing copies of her new book, Carolina Crimes & Creepers.
It’s opening night and the place is packed then screams ring out. Drayton and Theodosia rush outside to see young Willow hanging from a rope outside a 3rd-floor window. The police arrive and Detective Pete Riley, Theodosia’s boyfriend, is almost immediately sent to check out Willow’s apartment for clues to her death. He barely arrives and a shot is fired. Riley is hit and the shooter escapes.
Theo is beside herself worrying about Riley but when she is pressed to investigate by Willow’s great uncle she can’t say no. There are a lot of events planned at the Indigo Tea Shop but she knows with a little help from her friends she can find time to interview the growing number of suspects and do some general snooping. Heck, who wouldn’t want to search a creepy old house for clues so close to Halloween. Theo just hopes she isn’t the killer’s next victim.
I made the mistake a while back and got behind on this series. I will never make that mistake again. Now I anxiously await each new installment eager to see what Theo, Drayton, and Haley are up to. Ms. Childs never disappoints. This story did have a trigger moment for me but I was forewarned and I passed over that section quickly. My heart just broke for Willow and her family.
Opening this book I felt like I was visiting old friends. I settled right in with these lively characters and they took me on quite a journey. I love that even after 22 stories these characters are still fresh and continue to evolve. That is not an easy feat for an author. She also introduces some compelling new characters/suspects who all seem to be hiding something. Even the old Brouchard Mansion becomes a pseudo character as it has some secrets of its own.
The mystery is so well-written. Clever clues are filtered through all the twists and turns. My thinking was diverted so many times I gave up on counting. I certainly didn’t figure out whodunit until all was revealed and that is due to the author’s brilliant writing style. Ms. Childs words set the scene and everything that happens in great detail. Every page came alive in my mind’s eye. She even had my stomach growling with all the food descriptions.
Haunted Hibiscus was a very entertaining read with engaging characters. Riley and Theo’s relationship always makes me smile. Fans of this series with be delighted with this story full of Southern charm and suspense, humor, and romance all in perfect amounts. But if you are new to this series, don’t hesitate to pick up this book. Laura Childs writes this book to be easily read and enjoyed all on its own. I can’t promise you won’t want to go back and read the rest.
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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.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”