on July 12, 2003
This book just BLITHERS on and on. The author clearly knows far less about tea and the world of tea shops than she thinks she does - most of the brewing commentary would render you something more fit for the compost bin than the tea table - and the financial situations she creates for the tea related characters are overwhelmingly implausible. I found the book just about impossible to finish because there is nothing about the characters that makes them either plausible or interesting. The "plot" is also rather dismal.
In summary: if you want a good book tea, read one of the fabulous FACTUAL histories of the brew. If you want a good mystery, try Allingham, Christie, Churchill or Dahiem.
What can I say but that I absolutely loved this book. Everything about it just got me so wrapped up in Theo's Indigo Tea Shop and the mystery itself was intriguing in its' own little way I had to read this from cover to cover. Everything about it was just so "cozy". I loved the different descriptions about tea, and being a tea lover myself am now in the look out for new teas to try. Aside from the wonderful tea descriptions and the desserts that went along with it, the mystery was a fun read. Nothing too flashy and sensational. However there were proper moments of suspense and intrigue which kept the reader going and more engrossed to keep reading some more.
I loved the characters in the book. The suspects were believable and each had a motive for murder. I liked Theo and her staff at the tea shop who supported her through her investigation. They were all likable characters (although I found Drayton to be a particular favorite as he was the actual tea connoisseur). As for the real murderer and the solving of the case, I thought I had guessed correctly but I was blindsided and it wasn't who I expected it to be. There were a couple of questions I would like to have answered but I figured they would wait until the next book or two to see what would happen to certain characters I'm curious about. Plot flow was good and interesting. Nothing distracting to take away from the main theme. Theo is a great strong character and her determination to solve this case and save the reputation of her business and friend makes her even more likeable and noble.
Overall a wonderful mystery cozy! this will definitely be a series I will continue reading. I recommend this for cozy mystery lovers and tea aficionados alike.
on June 17, 2003
First of all this book is set in Charleston, SC. The author takes great care to overpopulate this book with references to geographic locations in and around Charleston. There are many needless references to street names, suburbs, etc. which to me (as a non-Charlestonian) are just items to blip over. This was done to excess and distracted me from a lot of the story, which I ended up basically skimming through.
The second thing that distracted me was the constant barrage of product placement (although I don't know if authors are actually paid for this kind of stuff the way movie producers are). (Janet Evanovich is guilty of this, too.) The character Drayton uses a Mont Blanc pen. Theodosia drives a Jeep Cherokee, has a Scooby Doo cookie jar, wears Tod loafers (although it's misspelled in the book as Todd), and so forth. None of this is germane to the story line. This therefore is a bit glaring.
Lastly, the author is quite intent on explaining things to her readers. It is highly possible (and perfectly acceptable) that many tea-related things are explained in detail to the reader, since tea is the main focus of the book. I know a lot about tea, but there were still some explanations that I needed. Some on the other hand were a bit tedious. Where the writing really grates, though, is where the author introduces a concept and then proceeds to explain it all to us. Here is an example. Theodosia and Drayton are making spaghetti carbonara, which is a rich creamy-sauced spaghetti. Drayton is worried about the cholesterol content, and Theodosia explains that the wine will help counteract that. "'You mean like the French paradox,' said Drayton. He was making reference to the staple diet in France that consists of bread, rich cheeses, eggs, cream and lots of chocolate desserts. Yet, because of their almost daily consumption of wine, the French have an extremely low incidence of heart disease." Everything in the quote marks is totally dispensable and adds nothing to the story. I suggest that most readers would be able to understand the wine/cream sauce reference without a whole paragraph devoted to explaining it. There are lots of these throughout the book. Distracting and irritating.
That's why I only gave it two stars. The story is entertaining in a typical murder mystery way, and the characters are developed enough that you don't see a clear "bad guy" or "good guy" for most of it - although the characters aren't really people I ended up caring about (perhaps because I skimmed so much). Still, I bought three in this series at once, so I will probably end up reading all three. Perhaps Childs has dropped some of these annoyances in subsequent books.
on June 6, 2002
If you are looking for a new author, meet Ms. Childs. Her book, "Death by Darjeeling" is a refreshing new treat.
I am continually looking for new, interesting story tellers. Ms. Childs is well on her way to becoming a good mystery writer although I did not give the book a full five stars. I held one star back for this first book in the series only because the book has a slightly amateurish feel to it, just like the main character, Ms. Theodosia Browning, who is an amateur sleuth. This book is a good introduction into adult mystery stories for young women--it is very adult without being smutty or dirty. It gets 5 stars for being "clean."
If you love to sit with a tea cup in your hand while reading, this book is definitely for you.
I look forward to reading "Gunpowder Green" another of Ms. Child's books as soon as I can to see if both the Ms. Browning and Ms. Childs' writing has matured.
Short-short synopsis: Theodosia owns a tea shop, caters an event where a guest dies from drinking the tea, and snoops to find the murderer. There are clues, which I missed, and when the person who committed the murder was revealed, I thought Ms. Childs made a very clever choice of the characters.
Things about the book I liked:
I loved the cover design. (5 stars for the cover)
I loved the name of the dog, Earl Grey. (5 stars for the dog!)
I loved the descriptions of Charlestown.
I loved the tea-room, its sights, and its smells. (5 stars here)
I loved the descriptions of various types of teas. I am not an adventurous tea-drinker, but after reading "Death by Darjeeling," I plan to try various flavors now. (10 stars here)
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and look forward to Ms. Childs' writing career.
Take a literary sip of "Death by Darjeeling" and see if you agree.
on March 4, 2002
Theodosia Browning is the owner of a teashop in Charleston's historic district. When developer Hughes Barron is found poisoned with a cup of her tea in his hand, she's upset. But when a friend becomes the prime suspect, Theo starts to investigate to find the real killer. The late Mr. Barron was not a scrupulous man, so there is no shortage of suspects. Even his partner had motive. But can she find the killer before he comes after her?
I really enjoyed this book, however, it's obviously a first novel. The writing style is a little wooden in spots, and the first chapter bogs down a little giving backgrounds of the series characters. On the other hand, I was drawn in by the characters and really came to care for them. The plot wasn't quite developed as well as it could have been, but it progressed well, was logical, and there were plenty of good red herrings to keep me guessing. The setting was intriguing; I'd love to visit the area after reading this book. And the tea aspect was just right. I'm not a tea person, but the information was interesting enough without overshadowing the mystery.
Overall, the flaws were minor, and I really did enjoy this book. The author shows a lot of promise, and I look forward to watching her talent develop as the series progresses.
on January 28, 2002
Death by Darjeeling was an okay quickie read. The plot earned only three of the four stars that I gave it. The basic premise -- Charlestonian blueblood, who owns a quaint little tea shop in the historic district, caters a tea party at which a greedy developer dies while sipping a cuppa -- was interesting. However, I don't feel that the author gave any depth to the plot. Instead of a novel, this was more like a television script. Characters were given only enough of an introduction to make them suspects.
The fourth star was given for the local color and atmosphere that Laura Childs managed to capture. I know Charleston fairly well, and I really enjoyed the little touches she threw into the book. Descriptions of the gardens and alleyways between the homes, the church bells, the islands and seagrass baskets bring back terrific memories. And if you're a food lover, you'll flip over the descriptions of the teas and sweets.
I'll continue to read the series, but I do hope there is more depth to the next book than there was to this one.
on September 4, 2001
Theodosia Browning, owner of the charming little Indigo Tea Shop in Charleston, SC is enjoying the resurgence and newly-found popularity of the world of tea...Needless to say, there has to be a murder to muck up things for Theodosia and friends in the quaint Antebellum city...
When a guest on Charleston's famous Lamplighter tour is suddenly found dead clutching one of the Indigo Tea Shop's teacups, all eyes turn suspiciously to Theo and her cast of employees and friends at the small shop.
Theo gets more than she bargained for when she tries to find the identity of the killer, and as she gets closer, the threats start rolling in, endangering herself and her nearest and dearest.
'Death by Darjeeling' is the first in a (hopefully) series of mysteries, and I must say, it was a pleasant surprise!
Though you've probably all heard this sort of cozy plot before in numerous other settings, this one happens to be a real find!
The wonderful history of Charleston comes alive through Ms. Childs endearing narration and you definitely get a sense that the author loves and cherishes her city very much and is quite proud of it's interesting past.
Not to mention all the added information about tea, types of tea, tea growing, etc. Alright, this might not peak everyone's interest, but if you're at least a tea-drinker with a penchant for a nice, Southern mystery with some fun characters and laughs thrown in, it's definitely worth a shot!
Let's hope Ms. Childs has installment #2 on the way!
on July 6, 2001
Theodosia Browning is the 36-year-old owner of the Indigo Tea Shop in Charleston, South Carolina. Having abandoned her high profile, high intensity career as an advertiser, Theo now enjoys the joys and challenges of running her own small business in Charleston's historic district. With her dog, Earl Grey, and her little apartment over her tea shop, Theo cherishes her new life in the slow lane.
Her serenity is marred, however, when the city's most hated man-a developer with an eye toward tarnishing the purity of the historic district-is found dead after drinking some of Theo's specially blended tea. Theo and her employees are all suspect, and to save her good name, not to mention her business, Theo sets out to solve the mystery of his death.
This is a charming book, for mystery lovers and tea drinkers alike. The author takes you inside the world of tea specialists, as well as the small community of business owners that comprise Charleston's historic district. Theo and her friends are comfortably familiar, and the book is a quick, enjoyable read.
Most importantly, Childs lets the mystery drive the story. The details of tea making and the atmosphere of Charleston are supplements to the plot, as they should be. The mystery has some weaknesses, but the characters and setting more than compensate. Read this book when you're in the mood for something light and fun.
on June 8, 2001
Death by Darjeeling is a crisp read that will make you feel like a regular visitor to romantic Charleston, South Carolina. I feel I could make my way around this historic city like a native and I would not be in the least bit surprized to find myself savoring a cup of tea in the Indigo Tea Shop presided over by Theodosia Browning, the heroine of this novel. Theodosia has left the pressure cooker world of marketing to set up a cozy haven that attracts people of all sorts, Drayton, the expert in all tea matters, young women in need of a safe harbor, the loyal dog Earl Grey and even a few would be suitors. Each one of them gets involved in Theodosia's misdaventures when a prominent guest is poisoned at a tea social. Theodosia must solve the crime to save her reputation and the little world built upon it. The author, Laura childs, has created a sympathtic cast of characters that I came to know and care about; I look forward to seeing them in the promised second book of tea-house mysteries. Until then, I will enjoy a cup of freshly brewed tea made according to the receipe tucked away in the back of this excellent book. It is a really good read.
on June 8, 2001
A crisp read that will make you feel like a regular visitor to hisotric Charleston. I feel as though I could make my way around this romantic city like a native and I would not be in the least bit surprized to find myself savoring a cup of tea and hot treats at the Indigo Tea Shop.
The author,Laura Childs, has created a sympathetic cast of characters centered around Theodosia Browning who left the pressure cooker world of marketing to set up a cozy tea-shop. Theodosia attracts people of all sorts, Drayton her resident expert on tea matters, young women in need of a sympathetic haven, the loyal dog Earl Grey and even some would be suitors. Each is involved in Theodosia's misadventures when a guest is poisoned at a socially prominent tea-party. By the end of this tightly written mystery I felt that I really knew and cared for the heroine and her loyal crew at the tea shop. I look forward to their forthcoming adventures in a promised second volume. Until then, I will savor Death by Darjeeling over the aroma of a freshly steeped pot of tea made according to the receipe tucked into the back of this entertaining mystery. A really good read.