9780425281642 (2)Ming Tea Murder

A Tea Shop Mystery

By Laura Childs

Berkley Prime Crime

336 pages/hardcover, $25.95

May 5, 2015

The installation of a genuine 18th century Chinese teahouse in the Gibbes Museum, in Charleston, began as a high society event. Local philanthropists were dressed formally, with the majority flaunting their wealth.

For Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning, the event, which was organized by her boyfriend, Max, made her proud. There is one major problem, though. One thing wasn’t planned: murder, and there is no way to soften the blow when a museum investor is the victim. Max also didn’t plan on Theo finding the body in the museum during the party.

When Max is fired, Theo is determined to find the killer and set things back on track. Logically the first step in her investigation is the victim’s wife, for who would benefit the most from the estate? When Theo visits the home of the man murdered, she finds his widow, Charlotte, speaking with her late husband’s business partner. Charlotte informs Theo that they are considering the possibility of Datrex going public, which would significantly increase the company’s funds. Apparently, Charlotte’s husband didn’t want to go public. They were making plans before the man was even buried. In an effort to smooth over the awkwardness of moving ahead with an agenda, Charlotte hires Theo to handle the after-service reception for her late husband.

What gets Max in even more trouble is an argument he had with the man who was murdered about having a private donor party instead of having an event open to the public. The entire confrontation seems to be exaggerated on purpose.

An open house at the victim’s girlfriend’s store turns into a fight with the widow and mistress. Not only does it cause a scene, it leads Theo to the fact that there are sharp woodworking tools in the store’s workshop.

Ming Tea Murder has a lot going on and it’s pretty interesting. Not only do you have a hard working business woman, but she’s pretty good as an amateur sleuth. The author does a good job of leading you through a maze of possible suspects, not making the guilty person obvious. The only that I wonder about is where the victim was murdered. Can it be done in a public place and how do you hide the weapon? I continue to be a Laura Child’s fan.

Four out of five cups of special blended tea

Denise Fleischer


June 21, 2015