ARC Review: “Murder in a Teacup,” by Vicki Delany

Happy Sunday all! I finally thought that I was on top of things, only to realize an ARC I had marked for August actually came out in July! Murder in a Teacup is book two of Vicki Delany’s Tea by the Sea Mystery series, and while I am a bigger fan of some of Vicki Delany’s other series (The Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery series is the best, and she writes my favorite Lighthouse Library Mystery series under the pseudonym Eva Gates) the Tea by the Sea series is still delightful. How can anyone beat a series set on the Massachusetts coastline in a tea house?! Thank you, Netgalley and Kensington, for this opportunity! So without further ado…


From the Publisher:

National bestselling author Vicki Delany’s delightful Tea by the Sea mystery series continues, as Cape Cod tearoom proprietress and part-time sleuth, Lily Roberts, stirs up trouble when she unwittingly serves one of her grandmother’s B&B guests a deadly cup of tea…

Lily has her work cut out for her when a visit from her grandmother Rose’s dear friend, Sandra McHenry, turns into an unexpected–and unpleasant–McHenry family reunion. The squabbling boils over and soon Tea by the Sea’s serene afternoon service resembles the proverbial tempest in a teapot. Somehow, Lily and her tearoom survive the storm, and Sandra’s bickering brethren finally retreat to Rose’s B&B. But later that evening, a member of their party–curmudgeonly Ed French–dies from an apparent poisoning and suddenly Tea by the Sea is both scene and suspect in a murder investigation!

Mercifully, none of the other guests fall ill. They all ate the same food, but Ed always insisted on bringing his own special blend of herbal teas. So it seems, amid the whining and dining, someone snuck up to one of Lily’s cherished teapots and fatally spiked Ed’s bespoke brew, but who? Was it Ed’s long-estranged sister-in-law? Did teenage troublemaker Tyler take a prank too far? Or perhaps the family’s feuds have been steeping for longer than anyone realizes? It’s up to Lily, Rose, and their friends to get to the bottom of the poisoned pot and bag the real culprit behind the kettle murder plot.


What I Liked:

  • Cape Cod. A good cozy set a great scene, and Murder in a Teacup is right up there. The bed and breakfast/tea house sits on a bluff overlooking the sea, with beautiful gardens filled with native plants and meandering paths. The nearby town has quaint shops and beautiful sunsets, boardwalks to eat ice cream and ride your bike. I want to visit!
  • Lily and Simon. Okay, so they are moving glacially slow. However, I have to keep in mind that this is only book two, and Simon is a delectable potential love interest. Charming British accent, rides a motorcycle, knows his plants AND knows how to bake? Count me in. I wish Lily would get out of her own way and let them blossom (pun intended), but I did love each and every moment that Lily and Simon spent together.
  • The Dysfunctional Family Trope. Yet again, I find myself engrossed in a murder mystery centering on a dysfunctional family who all have various motives to kill the victim. While Ed wasn’t as unlikeable as many other cozy victims, he still lived enough life to make many enemies, and most of those enemies are there drinking tea with him. I love this trope because perfect families are boring, and the more insane a family is, the harder the murder is to solve. Vicki Delany sure knows how to write a good mystery.

What Didn’t Work for Me:

  • Lily, Rose, and Bernie. Rose and Bernie, Lily’s grandmother and best friend respectively, are amateur sleuths and professional bullies when it comes to getting what they want from Lily. They are relentless and constantly interfering with Lily running her tea business. While the first book was significantly more egregious with Rose and Bernie walking all over Lily, Murder in a Teacup only slightly mitigates their overbearing influence. Could Lily lighten up? Sure. However, the two of them aren’t interfering with Lily for her benefit, but rather their own.
  • The Police Force. While I am happy that the newer Detective Redmond is receptive and more competent than her partner, the bumbling Detective Williams, both characters are caricatures of law enforcement. Redmond is described as never relaxing, always looking cop-like even off duty, and never not “on,” while Williams is described as an overweight, lazy, old white man cop who loves publicity and not dealing with his upstart colleague. I know that this gives Lily and the gang room to investigate, but Williams and Redmon deserve more personality than this.
  • The Pace. I can’t really explain it, but Murder in a Teacup dragged for me. The murder was interesting, but didn’t occur until 30% into the book, and the red herrings and thrilling conclusion couldn’t disguise a meandering time getting to the finish line. Worth the wait, but I did skim a bit in the middle.

Conclusion:

Murder in a Teacup was by far better than book one of the Tea by the Sea Mysteries, Tea and Treachery. It also fixed a lot of bad characterization decisions from the first book. However, I wouldn’t call it Vicki Delany’s strongest series. Definitely worth the read if you love tea, the sea, and a good murder mystery. Three and a half waves for this beach read! If you haven’t started this series yet, pick up book one here, and if you are excited to read book two, pick it up here for your next beach trip (out now!)

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