Murder with Oolong Tea
Karen Rose Smith
reviewed by Leslie Chatman
Serving afternoon tea and snacks at a small gathering should be an easy job for Daisy and her staff. Until she stumbles upon a dead body in an unexpected place in Murder with Oolong Tea, the sixth installment in the Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery series.
When Daisy was asked to cater refreshments for the teacher appreciation tea at Willow Creek High School, she was hoping it would be an easy afternoon event. Until she finds a teacher, Althea Higgins, dead, floating in the school swimming pool with a lane rope wrapped around her neck.
Althea was an unpopular teacher with some very polarizing views, but who would want her dead so badly to do it in her place of employment during a celebratory gathering? Daisy soon learns that many people have a motive, but finding the real culprit will not be easy.
As would be typical in Daisy’s life, she having differences of opinion with Jonas and Jazzy has asked to have a friend from school stay with the family while her parents vacation. Daisy can sense the real need for this young lady to have some structure in her life. Little does she know that her daughter’s friend will help lead her to learn that Althea had deep secrets and anyone in her past or her present could have been out for blood.
I always have immense joy when another book in this series is published. The plot is well-written and suspenseful, while the characters and their relationships are intricate, complicated and ever-evolving. As a culinary cozy, the food and tea is always an exciting element in each book.
Karen Rose Smith does something with her characters that I really appreciate – she has them experience very true to life trials that add a human factor the reader can often relate to. This makes her work so easy to read and to connect with because the reader will start to root for these characters to win over their barriers.
There are many threads in this book: Daisy oversteps with Jonas, Daisy and Jazzy have a troubled house guest, Daisy is still running the tea garden, Daisy is solving another murder. This is a lot for the reader to take in, in one story as each thread has its own unique challenges involved. Smith does a great job weaving these storylines together, but I was somewhat overwhelmed by them all.
This book seems very different from the previous five, to me, in that there were several scene changes in each chapter. Possibly because of all of the various threads, but it was a little confusing to keep up with. Also, this book seems to lack the subtle clues that lead the reader to earmark a person as a real suspect or simply a red herring. I felt that Smith was obviously leading the reader to one person with little to throw them off or to make them second guess themselves.
Despite that, Murder with Oolong Tea is an exciting read, with a very interesting plot twist that propels readers to a satisfying resolution. As always, Smith really takes time with her characters and allows them to develop and work through flaws and to fully experience life with all of its ups and downs. It’s powerful, in a way.
The Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery series is a true favorite of mine and I anxiously await the seventh installment, Murder with Orange Peoke, slated for release later this year.