Theodosia Browning serves tea and solves crimes in Charleston, a city steeped in tradition and treachery in the latest Tea Shop Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs.
It is Sunday afternoon, and Theodosia and Drayton are catering a formal tea at a hot-air balloon rally. The view aloft is not only stunning, they are also surrounded by a dozen other colorful hot-air balloons. But as the sky turns gray and the clouds start to boil up, a strange object zooms out of nowhere. It is a drone, and it appears to be buzzing around the balloons, checking them out.
As Theodosia and Drayton watch, the drone, hovering like some angry, mechanized insect, deliberately crashes into the balloon next to them. An enormous, fiery explosion erupts, and everyone watches in horror as the balloon plummets to the earth, killing all three of its passengers.
Sirens scream, first responders arrive, and Theodosia is interviewed by the police. During the interview she learns that one of the downed occupants was Don Kingsley, the CEO of a local software company, SyncSoft. Not only do the police suspect Kingsley as the primary target, they learn that he possessed a rare Revolutionary War Union Jack flag that several people were rabidly bidding on.
Intrigued, Theodosia begins her own investigation. Was it the CEO’s soon-to-be ex-wife, who is restoring an enormous mansion at no expense? The CEO’s personal assistant, who also functioned as curator of his prized collection of Americana? Two rival antiques’ dealers known for dirty dealing? Or was the killer the fiancée of one of Theodosia’s dear friends, who turns out to be an employee—and whistle-blower—at SyncSoft?
INCLUDES DELICIOUS RECIPES AND TEA TIME TIPS!
After watching a hot air balloon plummet to the ground and kill its occupants, Theodesia must once again find a killer. One of the passengers was selling a priceless flag that several people wanted to get their hands on, so it seems that he may have been the intended victim of the crime.
The dramatic murder will certainly grab your attention and the mystery will hold onto it through the rest of the story. I love Theodesia and the rest of the characters in this series, and always enjoy visiting them and the tea shop. This series manages to stay fresh even after so many books, and I am already looking forward to the next one. The tea info and recipes are a wonderful bonus.
Broken bone China is book #20 in the Tea Shop Mystery series, but the mystery can stand alone and you can read this book without having read the others.
Please read on for a guest post from author Laura Childs!
Guest Blog by Laura Childs, New York Times
Bestselling Author of Broken Bone China.
What a Character!
Writing characters – creating a fictional entity that readers will enjoy and identify with – is one of the most exciting aspects of being an author. When I started writing my very first Tea Shop Mystery, I got extremely lucky. My main character, Theodosia Browning, practically sprang to life, fully formed, right before my eyes. As I wrote my very first paragraph, I was able to envision what type of person Theodosia was, understand her personality, and know exactly how she would evolve into a clever but still-elegant amateur sleuth.
Okay, so Theodosia was smart and likeable. What other ingredient could I add to make this character even more personable? Well, it was important that I make her exceptionally good at her job. In this case, Theodosia became a tea entrepreneur, a woman who’d left a nerve-jangling job in marketing to open a tea shop. She understood that her Indigo Tea Shop in the heart of Charleston could serve as an oasis of calm. That her collection of fresh tea was almost as therapeutic as an aromatherapy treatment, her fresh-baked scones soothing and delicious, and the décor in her cozy tea shop appealing to the senses.
But Theodosia also needed to be dynamic and charismatic. When a murder occurred, she had to get involved in a very personal way. She had to be a witness, a friend of the victim, or be asked to help out. In this way, she had to become a smart amateur sleuth who made logical deductions, sniffed out clues (often to the consternation of the police), and sometimes put herself in danger. She had to run her own shadow investigation to deduce which people were mere suspects and who was the real killer. And she had to somehow figure out a way to unmask the killer so she could bring him or her to justice.
And here’s the real kicker. Along the way, Theodosia had to suffer. I had to toss huge obstacles in her path that served to derail her, that caused her to question her own ability. And then, when the story hit its darkest depths, Theodosia had to pull herself up to try again. In this way, she’s able to garner a fair amount of sympathy (and cheering) from readers who became invested in the murder mystery and in her struggle.
If I’ve made you curious about Theodosia, here’s the Cliff’s Notes on her role in Broken Bone China:
After catering a formal tea at a hot-air balloon rally, tea shop maven Theodosia and her tea sommelier Drayton bask in a hot air balloon ride. But as the skies darken, a rogue drone buzzes in and strikes a nearby balloon, causing an enormous, fiery explosion. People are dead and one of them is Don Kingsley, software bigwig and owner of a rare Revolutionary War Union Jack flag. As Kingsley’s widow presses Theodosia for help, suspects abound in the form of rival antiques dealers, museum representatives, and private collectors. Five million dollars is also missing from the software firm and the fiancé of Angie Congdon (Theodosia’s dear friend and B and B owner) also becomes a prime suspect. In the midst of all this drama, Theodosia still has to charm her tea shop guests, manage the photo shoot at Drayton’s historic home, and pull off a Beaux Arts Tea, her most elaborate tea party yet.
In the tradition of all my previous New York Times bestselling thriller-cozies (thrillzies!), Broken Bone China delivers a breakneck pace, heart-warming moments, and recipes that include Eggnog Scones, Strawberry Butter, Banana Pudding Pie, Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms, and Sea Scallops with Brown Butter.
Thanks for reading this and take care!
About the Author
Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fundraising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.
Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:
The Tea Shop Mysteries – set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She’s also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn’t rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.
The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans’ spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!
The Cackleberry Club Mysteries – set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe’s undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.
Website – http://www.laurachilds.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/laura.childs.31
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