Book Review –  Pekoe Most Poison

A Tea Shop Mystery #18

By Laura Childs

Berkley Prime Crime


311 pages

March 7, 2017

Life for Theodosia Browning is never boring. In this new Tea Shop Mystery, Theo and Drayton, her knowledgeable tea sommelier and dear friend, are invited to attend an unusual tea at Calhoun Mansion. The theme dates back to the beginning of World War II when war workers came to the navy shipyard in Charleston County, North Carolina, to build and repair shops. The increased population led to poor sanitation and more rats. Charleston found an effective means of removing them. Aiding in the cause, ladies’ groups held “rat teas” to share the method with other cities.

This unusual revisited tea is at the heart of the mystery. Doreen Briggs, the president of the Ladies Opera Auxiliary, hosts a rat tea. No sooner does the it start, when a series of unfortunate situations lead not only to the demise of the event, but Doreen’s husband, as well. Her husband, Beau Briggs, owned apartment buildings in North Carolina and was a business partner of the new Gilded Magnolia Spa.

After questioning the guests, Detective Riley ends the party. Shortly after, Drayton mentions to Theo that Doreen requested that she conduct a personal investigation to ensure a donation is given to the Heritage Society. Drayton is very involved with the society and Theo has been successful, in the past, being an amateur sleuth. Yes, Doreen is slightly manipulative and it would appear it’s because she has so much tied into bad investments her husband made with her money. Theo’s investigation begins and will take a big mouse trap to catch the guilty party.

PEKOE MOST POISON has a strange beginning this time around for a Tea Shop Mystery: a catering crew dressed with rat heads, but that’s what I love about the series. You can bet it will start with a big society party and jump right into a murder. This one had a lot of red herrings, which I prefer to call intentional twists on the path to the truth. I know this is fiction, but I’m thinking real world situation, I would think Doreen would know the importance of protecting her money from her husband’s not-so-perfect track record of business deals. So that threw me off a bit. Her financial planner should have requested her signature on all documents and filled her in to what was happening. Fire the man if he didn’t. Doreen was also really pushy when it came to getting Theo to investigate. A lawyer should have assisted her in getting back funds, not Theo. But I loved Theo’s courage and intuitive nature and that she and Drayton seem to make a great team. I like the fact that Drayton is an older gentleman who knows about tea blends, history and serving. As for the killer, I was a little suspicious of the individual, but didn’t expect the ending. She fooled me again. Liked this book and can’t wait to read the next.

Four rat traps out of five

Denise Fleischer


April 2, 2017