Rating: Very Good
Description: When Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning is invited by Doreen Briggs, one of Charleston’s most prominent hostesses, to a “Rat Tea,” she is understandably intrigued. As servers dressed in rodent costumes and wearing white gloves offer elegant finger sandwiches and fine teas, Theo learns these parties date back to early twentieth-century Charleston, where the cream of society would sponsor so-called rat teas to promote city rodent control and better public health.
But this party goes from odd to chaotic when a fire starts at one of the tables and Doreen’s entrepreneur husband suddenly goes into convulsions and drops dead. Has his favorite orange pekoe tea been poisoned? Theo smells a rat.
The distraught Doreen soon engages Theo to pursue a discreet inquiry into who might have murdered her husband. As Theo and her tea sommelier review the guest list for suspects, they soon find themselves drawn into a dangerous game of cat and mouse...
Genre: Mystery - Cozy
Why I Picked This Book: I really enjoyed a book I had read in her Scrapbooking series as well as one in her Cackleberry Club series. I had read the first few in this series years ago and really wanted to revisit it.
My Impression: This was a delightful cozy mystery! Laura Childs was one of the first cozy mystery writers I discovered when I first started reading cozy mysteries -around 15 years or so ago - and her mystery game has only gotten stronger. I loved seeing Theo and Drayton getting involved in the investigation and it was super fun to watch the mystery unravel. It's always fun when it starts out looking like there couldn't possibly any suspects and then things quickly became more complex than they originally seemed.
While a good mystery is always the fundamental thing in a mystery, Childs manages to make the setting of Charleston, South Carolina itself and Theo's tea shop just as enjoyable. Charleston is a beautiful city with a fascinating and diverse history and I really enjoyed seeing little tidbits of this pop up throughout the book. As well I really enjoyed seeing the inside of the tea shop and my mouth absolutely watered with all the mentions of Haley's yummy sounding creations. Luckily there are tons of recipes and tips on tea at the back of the book. This is a fantastic read for a rainy day - just make sure you have a big steaming cup of tea and a tasty scone. I recommend the apricot scones from the recipe below!
My copy of Pekoe Most Poison is a review copy and didn't have the recipes but luckily my library has a bunch in this series (which I'm looking forward to reading) and I picked up Steeped in Evil which has a recipe for Apricot Scones that turned out absolutely fantastic!
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold butter, diced up
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup chopped dried apricots
Preheat oven to 375. In a bowl, combine flour, sguar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter with fork or pastry blender until crumbly. Stir in cream, then add apricots. Knead dough 5 or 6 times on a lightly floured surface until dough forms a ball. Roll dough into a circle about 6 inches thick. Cut into approximately 16 triangles. Place scones on greased baking sheet, sprinkle a little extra sugar on top, and bake 16 to 20 minutes.
Now I just wish I had some of that Devonshire cream that Theo always serves with her scones!
I'm linking up with Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads