As an avid reader with special interest in the mystery/thriller genre, I'm always on the lookout for a good series. In particular, I like books I can turn to when I've had my fill of blood and guts, mayhem and hard-boiled heroes who can kill five villains with their bare hands despite a broken leg and two gunshot wounds. I still want books in the mystery category, mind you - I just want them a bit on the lighter side. As such, I count The Cat Who series by Lilian Jackson Braun, The Burgler Who series by Lawrence Block and the Chet and Bernie mysteries by Spencer Quinn among my go-to favorites (all of which, unfortunately, I've read by now).
Happily, this book, which I received at no cost from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a review, fills the bill nicely. The heroine, Krissy Hancock, is the owner of Death by Coffee - a combination coffee shop and bookstore. She made her debut, if I read correctly, in Death by Coffee, which I have not read. This one stands on its own quite well, but little references here and there to incidents I assume happened in the predecessor suggest that I'd have preferred, as is my custom, to read the first one first.
Her little shop has been chosen as a meeting place by a book club, which is prepping for participation in (and winning) a book club competition. Yep, you read that right - I've never heard of such a thing either. They picked the place in part because the book they'll be reading was written by Krissy's father, even though by his own admission it's not one of his best. One night after all the club members and employees have gone, a man - one of the club members - is murdered. He was, it seems, bashed in the head by a teapot.
Krissy, a likable but downright nosy sort, begins to investigate despite warnings from the local police to butt out. Although she apparently helped police solve a different murder earlier - presumably the subject of the first book - this time out she's managed to become a prime suspect herself. Undaunted, she perseveres, putting personal relationships and even her life in jeopardy along the way.
As for Krissy, I flip-flopped from relating to her as a person to, well, not so much. She insists no man looks good in a Speedo (right on), but she abhors all country music (whoa, Nelly)! My biggest turn-off came early on: Her favorite sweet treat is a cup of coffee with a chocolate chip cookie at the bottom of the cup. Gross! Also, some of the situations in which she puts herself even though she's a suspect made me think she's either incredibly naive or impossibly stupid, but hey - if I'm honest, I must admit that nosy me probably have done exactly what she did. More to the point here, though, is that it all works - making the whole thing quite an enjoyable read.
As for me, I've put this series on my to-read list and now await publication of the next one.
Death By Tea by Alex Erickson (Amazon Digital Services, November 2015); 320 pp.