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on August 14, 2013
I like the subject matter a cup of tea and a good mystery, what could be better. Charleston is an excellent setting and her descriptions take you right into the centre of the city complete with hidden gardens and sea breezes.
Her main characters are fun believable and always consistent.
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on December 14, 2009
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.
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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.
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on May 28, 2001
"Death by Darjeeling" is a goodish read: rich in ambience and tea lore; and filled with quite a few interesting and eccentric characters. The detecting part of the mystery did take a while to take off, and the air of suspense and tension was not always there. However Laura Childs has provided us with a truly likable and intelligent detective in Theodosia Browning, as well as a nice supporting cast of characters in Theodosia's employees at the Indigo Tea Shop, so that eventhough I was a little disappointed with the mystery, I was totally won over by the characters and the overall mood of this novel.
Things are looking up for Theodosia Browning, proud owner of Charleston's Indigo Tea Shop -- not only is business bristling over nicely, but the Indigo Tea Shop will also be catering the garden party for Charleston's annual Historic Homes Garden Party, and a perfect opportunity for Theodosia to try out a few new blends on the public. However things don't exactly unfold as she expects them to: Bethany, an employee, stumbles onto one of the guests dead and clutching an empty teacup. Forensic evidence shows that there was poison in the teacup, and the hotshot detective in charge of the investigation seems to have zeroed in on Bethany as the poisoner. Theodosia is appalled at the situation: all kinds of rumours are swilling the streets and her business is beginning to suffer as a result; but she is also angry that the police seem to be satisfied at hounding Bethany instead of looking more closely at others who definitely have more motive than Bethany! Especially when the victim turns out to be the shady developer, Hughes Barron, who has ruffled more than a few feathers in Charleston. Theodosia is determined to discover who spiked the victim's teacup and to get Bethany off the hook. But Barron seems to have someone that aroused strong passions, and more than one suspect has Theodosia wondering if she has unwittingly put herself in harm's way...
Laura Childs has successfully transmuted the feel and flavour of the historic section of Charleston; and I found the bits of information about the different types of Chinese teas, and the correct steeping time, to be invaluable. The plot was an intriguing one, and the characters were interesting and well rounded out. Only two factors marred my total enjoyment of this novel: 1)I couldn't understand how a supposed hotshot detective who had worked with the FBI no less and who had nabbed a serial killer even after the trail was cold, could be so short sighted as to concentrate on only one suspect. This just didn't ring true to me. And 2) the air of suspense and tension was not well maintained at all, and this did detract a little from this otherwise rather excellent novel.
Barring my nitpicking, "Death By Darjeeling" was a very good read, and I'm looking forward to the next 'tea' mystery.
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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.
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on December 26, 2003
A very enjoyable beginning to a series that may have promise, but work needs to be done on the author's style and plot construction. After a satisfying number of red herrings, the true killer came out of left field -- a violation of my cardinal principle in evaluating mysteries: if I can't read the book a second time and find all the clues that pointed to the real killer, the author wasn't playing fair. On this ground, Childs is guilty of mystery writer's crime no. 1: inadequate clues pointing to the villain. The poison was never identified for the reader, so there was no ability to connect it to the perpetrator.
I found the descriptions of Charleston and the intricacies of a Tea Shop fascinating, but I agree that Theodosia Browning, the lead character, seemed more like a woman in her 50s (or from the 50s!) than a current thirtysomething. The supporting characters were well drawn -- I enjoyed them all. Here's hoping for better plotting as the series proceeds.
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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.
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on May 28, 2001
This novel is set in the historic district of Charleston. The main character owns the Indigo Tea Room. On the annual Lamplighters tour of historic houses, her tea room caters a garden tea in one of the historic houses. One of the waitresses finds a...[person] dead at one of the tables...Theodosia, the owner of Indigo Tea Shop is asked by her employees to find out who killed...[the person]
The author has given us a cast of unusual and quirky characters. She has a real gift for description, which enhanced the story without going overboard. The mystery was excellent,...and I never knew that there was so much to learn about tea. I look forward to reading the next one.
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on March 17, 2004
I really enjoyed DEATH BY DARJEELING by Laura Childs. It is the first of four "tea mystery" series that is set in Charleston.
In this first novel, apparently there are a few facts about Charleston and tea that were not prestinely correct. I didn't notice them and I am sure that Laura Childs has an excellent research team in place now. The point is that her book made me want to go to Charleston and made me quite interested in learning more about teas!
Her characters are great and the plots are very in depth. I hope that more readers will give this series a chance - I really enjoyed it.
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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!
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