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Dragonwell Dead (Tea Shop Mysteries) by Laura Childs
Cover Artist: Stephanie Henderson
Review by Gayle Surrette
Berkley Hardcover Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425213865
Date: 06 March 2007 List Price $23.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

The Indigo Tea Shop in Charleston's historic district is doing well. Theodosia Browning even has a line of T-Bath products. Drayton, their tea blending expert, is planning new signature teas for the shop and getting used to the idea of an intern working with him. Then tragedy strikes at the Annual Plantation Ramble where Theo had supplied the refreshments. At first the death is ruled to be from natural causes but later it's found to be murder and Theo promises to help find the killer, as the victim's wife is overwhelmed with disaster on top of disaster.

This, the eighth of the Tea Shop Mysteries, continues to develop the characters that have been introduced and continued in the series. As much as one might read the book for the whodunit and whodidit, it's a chance to visit again with people we know and care for. The major part of series is that when you read the story it's like catching up with a yearly letter..

Childs manages to bring us into the story and the setting. There's information about teas and their blends. Descriptions of the historic houses, clothes, and food, reading becomes a very sensual experience filled with vivid descriptions. Because of the descriptions you get caught up in Theo's life and experiences. She's a woman who manages to be at the center of things -- outgoing and friendly with a strong organizational sense, people confide in her and trust her. So, it seems natural that she'd be asked to look into the murder by the victim's wife. Childs doesn't have Theo charge around like a PI but simply listen, observe and report to the authorities as often as she can. However, when the authorities don't take her hints, well then she may follow up on her own because she has to be sure that all avenues are explored.

This is one of those mysteries that make a rainy day, welcome for it gives you a chance to settle in with a cup of tea, a good book, and a visit to a place you may not otherwise get to see.

There are also several recipes and some tea time tips on how to set up a tea service for various types of teas.

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