On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.
Steeped to Death (A Witches’ Brew Mystery)
Paranormal Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Washington State
Crooked Lane Books (September 6, 2022)
Hardcover : 304 pages
ISBN-10 : 1639101640
ISBN-13 : 978-1639101641
Kindle ASIN : B09N6YCX9W
For fans of Laura Childs and Amanda Flowers, it’s teatime in Raven Creek—but a murder at The Earl’s Study sets the stage for an intoxicating brew of small-town chicanery with a hint of the supernatural.
Phoebe Winchester’s beloved aunt Eudora has a taste for adventure—and a knack for making magical tea. It’s even rumored that she just might be a witch. So when Eudora passes away and leaves everything to her niece—her Victorian mansion, her bookshop/tea store, The Earl’s Study, and one very chubby orange cat named Bob—Phoebe gets more than she bargained for. And she knows she’s in deep when a dead man is found on the shop’s back step, apparently killed while trying to break in.
Two suspects immediately emerge among the townspeople of Raven Creek, Washington. There’s village busybody Dierdre Miller, who seems desperate to buy Eudora’s house, and handsome PI Rich, one of Phoebe’s childhood friends—but how well does she really know him after all these years apart?
Phoebe knows she should leave it to the professionals, but as she starts to dig into the underbelly of Raven Creek, she begins to uncover the truth about Eudora. What’s more, her aunt might not have been the only witch in the family, as Phoebe soon discovers she has unique and unexpected gifts of her own.
Now, it’s just a matter of putting her newfound power to the test and cast a spell that could catch a killer.
Phoebe Winchester has come to Raven Creek, Washington following the death of her dear Aunt Endora. Endora was a woman who loved life and was always up for adventure. She was also well known for making “magical tea”. Endora has left her mansion, tea/book shop, and Bob, her huge orange cat to Phoebe. Her shop, The Earl’s Study was her pride and joy. Phoebe just hopes to be able to keep the place going for a long time as her aunt has wished. Finding a dead body in the alley was not part of her business plan.
Phoebe is also dealing with the town’s busybody, Dierdre Miller, who is trying to get her to sell both the shop and her home so she can leave Raven Creek and get on with her life. Phoebe has no desire to sell or leave. In fact, she thinks the pressure the woman is putting on her to sell is pretty fishy especially when Phoebe believes she is involved with the man that was murdered.
When Phoebe mixes up, bakes, and serves her first batch of scones using her aunt’s precious ingredients she is surprised by what happens after Dierdre takes her first bite. There had been rumors that Endora may have been an actual witch so maybe her ingredients are still filled with magic. Or maybe, she may not have been the only one in the family with a special gift.
The information she gets from Dierdre makes Phoebe start her own investigation to find out who the deceased was?, and why he was at The Earl’s Study. Who killed him? And why? She also wants to see if she really does have magical powers and if those powers can help her sweep the killer straight into jail.
What a fun start for this series. Endora, a perfect name for a witch right, Agnes Morehead popped into my mind immediately. Thankfully the Endora in the story was a kind and giving witch and not conniving and up to mischief witch like the television Endora. Story Endora loved her niece so much and cared so much about all the people in her life. She also was welcoming to people needing a second chance. She did have her secrets though but true to form she made arrangements for those secrets to be revealed to Phoebe at the proper time. The murder hastened her timetable.
Phoebe loved her aunt and spent many summers with her when she was growing up and made some friends in Raven Creek. She was heartbroken that it had been some time since she had seen her aunt or the friends she had made. It was funny that it took a little prodding for her to recognize those friends though and she didn’t know if she could still trust them like she had all those years ago. I really enjoyed all the interactions she had with everyone as she tried to find her place in the town while trying to find out if one of them was the killer. She was easy to connect with and someone whose life I was happy to escape into.
The mystery was very well-plotted especially for the first book in the series when the author has to introduce all the characters and she did that well too. Ms. Rue sets a brisk pace with twists, turns, and secrets revealed. The author took time to set each scene making it easy to envision them in my mind’s eye. I had a couple of people in my sights as the guilty party but the reveal completely caught me off guard and let me tell you the pages were flying as a true showdown played out.
Steeped to Death is a lighthearted paranormal mystery filled with engaging characters that I can’t wait to revisit. I loved the cozy bookstore/tea shop setting as well as the mansion. Phoebe’s whole inheritance was quite interesting. Ms. Rue blends in plenty of humor with her mystery and daily life in Raven Creek. I was thoroughly entertained from beginning to end.
Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent
About the Author
Gretchen Rue lives in the Canadian prairies, which affords her ample time to read during six months of winter. She plays cat mom to four mostly indifferent fur children, and plant mom to roughly 100 very demanding flora. When she isn’t sipping tea and working on her next novel, she enjoys swimming, hiking, and watching baseball. Gretchen is a secondary pen-name from author Sierra Dean.
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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.”