Hello and welcome to number 3 (or so?!) of my cozy mystery streak. when I saw that Vicki Delany was coming out with a new series, I couldn’t resist but apply for this Tea and Treachery on Netgalley, since she write one of my favorite Sherlock Holmes pastiches (I reviewed the first book here) AND she write another series I am obsessed with under the name Eva Gates.
As you can see, I am a fan. So, thank you, Netgalley and Kensington Books, for this opportunity!
From the Publisher:
In this charming new cozy mystery series from nationally bestselling author, Vicki Delany, a New York City expat-turned-Cape Cod tea shop owner must solve the murder of a local real estate developer to help her feisty grandmother out of a jam . . .
As the proud proprietor and head pastry chef of Tea by the Sea, a traditional English tearoom on the picturesque bluffs of Cape Cod, Roberts has her hands full, often literally. But nothing keeps her busier than steering her sassy grandmother, Rose, away from trouble. Rose operates the grand old Victorian B & B adjacent to Lily’s tea shop . . . for now. An aggressive real estate developer, Jack Ford, is pushing hard to rezone nearby land, with an eye toward building a sprawling golf resort, which would drive Rose and Lily out of business.
Tempers are already steaming, but things really get sticky when Ford is found dead at the foot of Rose’s property and the police think she had something to do with his dramatic demise. Lily can’t let her grandmother get burned by a false murder charge. So she starts her own investigation and discovers Ford’s been brewing bad blood all over town, from his jilted lover to his trophy wife to his shady business partners. Now, it’s down to Lily to stir up some clues, sift through the suspects, and uncover the real killer before Rose is left holding the tea bag.
What I Loved:
- The Setting. Cape Cod is an absolutely beautiful, magical place, and I would stay at a cliffside B&B with an old-fashioned tea room in a heartbeat. This sounds like a dream come true. While the book doesn’t discuss the town or surrounding areas as much, the onsite location was so well written you don’t even notice. Also, how can you beat the name of the tea room? “Tea by the Sea” is perfection.
- The Mystery. I feel like recently, most of the mystery books I’ve read didn’t provide an intriguing enough mystery, or felt random and irrational. Tea and Treachery provided a good roadmap, but also didn’t give the mystery away too quickly. It made sense, and the list of suspects were engaging. Vicki Delany really knows how to write a mystery.
- The (hint of) Romance. I loved that Delany included a potential love interest early, presented the issues that could be associated with the pursuit, and then allowed the attraction to bloom organically. Lily (the main character) and the head gardener Simon show those first signs of a romance – sideways looks, lingering longer than needed, and helping out when the other is in need, just because. Simon is only supposed to be “in town” for the summer, but I am looking forward to seeing how well that plan goes. Similarly, the hints are there for best friend Bernie and next door neighbor Matt. It is never as obnoxious as “will they, won’t they,” but something more fresh and light.
Swoonworthy quote from Simon (imagine with a British accent for optimal results):
I sometimes think my blood is made of seawater. When I’m away from it, I can feel the tides pulling at me.
What Didn’t Work for Me:
- Bernie and Rose. That was a little broad, so let me specify – I love that Lily has a grandmother who dragged her out to New England, and has a delightful British accent, and I love how Bernie is the flighty friend always chasing dreams but never getting her feet firmly under her. However, the two of them were like a dog with a bone throughout the mystery, and they walked all over Lily trying to solve it. Rose treats Lily sometimes like her servant, while other times she treats her as though she runs the entire business; and Bernie seems to think that she can barge into Lily’s life whenever she wants to drag her into a hairbrained scheme regarding the murder, even if Lily is in the middle of work. Lily seems to lose backbone whenever she is confronted with the two of them, also. It made Rose and Bernie much more unlikeable in my eyes, even though they set up to be fun and engaging side characters. Simply put, they are both selfish, and it is hard to like them while also liking Lily.
- The Archetypal Bumbling Detective. Normally I am all for a detective that doesn’t seem to be doing their job, since it gives room for our savvy amateur sleuths to show their worth. However here, Detective Williams seems downright crooked, on top of being a womanizer, incompetent, and rude. I do appreciate that it provided a foil for the competent and worldly female cop “from the city,” but I did feel it was laid on thick with both accusations of bribery, and being a shitty human being.
I think with a few edits and maybe some character development, Tea and Treachery is going to be another out of the park cozy by Vicki Delany. Her writing style just works for the genre in ways a lot of other authors can’t pull off – she always balances the female sleuth’s naturally amateurish detecting style with intuition and savvy, and puts a healthy dose of “real world” elements into her books so that you want to like the characters as well as the mystery itself. Four waves out of five! Tea and Treachery comes out July 28, so pick it up here or here in time to read in a beach chair (bonus: Buy now for a 10% discount at Bookshop!)
Sounds to me like you are making the bread without first taking into account what filling is going to go inside the sandwich.