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.
Laura Childs, in her eighteenth book, continues her successful Tea Shop Series... with an added dollop of murder set in Charleston. The first Chapter sets the tone with a "Rat Tea" for a Murder. Who among the group of prominent Suspects had a motive? Theodosia Browning, ends up on a murder hunt, along with her staff member and friend, Drayton... at the request of the victim's wife. She also runs a successful Tea Shop, which allows us to be treated to Child's wonderful research on Tea. Some of the scenes made my mouth water as I am a great Tea Lover. I suspect many who read this series fix their Teapot of leaves while they read.
The descriptions are lovely of Charleston and the roads that make up the historical district. I have in my mind's eye those same charming buildings while I read Child's very apt sketches.
But the heart of any mystery is the "who done it." Laura Child's is good at building the mystery- throwing in red herrings, so that at the end I was completely surprised. The pace is slow enough, so that if like me, you are a novice to the series, you can quickly pick up the thread of the characters.
This may have been the first book in the series I have read but it won't be the last.