Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Murder at Teatime: Review

Murder at Teatime (1991) by Stefanie Matteson is a cozy mystery series starring Charlotte Graham, Oscar-award winning actress and belle of Broadway with a nose for clues. After more than forty years on stage and screen, Charlotte finds herself without a play and without a hint of a script. So, she decides to take a vacation at the Maine island home of her dear friends Stan and Kitty Saunders. Gilley Island is beautiful and restful...at least that's what she's been promised. But Charlotte feels like she's walked in to the middle of a melodrama.

The residents are all up in arms over a proposed development project that will bring an exclusive resort to the coastal island. Most are in favor of the project--with the promise of jobs to replace those that have been lost when factories and other industries have moved out of the area. But Dr. Franklin Thornhill, who owns a large parcel of land smack dab in the middle of the area the resort folk want to buy, is one of those steadfastly against the idea and refuses to sell. A harassment campaign has been in force--from letting the air out of Thornhill's tires to crude, child-like drawings with threatening notes--and then, on the day Charlotte arrives, Thornhill's dog is poisoned.

Thornhill's death from a poisoned cup of tea follows after his niece, a white witch who lives with him a Ledge House, holds a Midsummer's Night (Summer Solstice) celebration with plenty of odd...and sometimes poisonous...herbs and concoctions. Did someone mistake monkshood for a bit of tea leaves or was the doctor deliberately done away with? His rivals in the land project aren't the only suspects for hustling the doctor off this mortal coil. His daughter and son-in-law stand to inherit, his niece may have wanted to stop an impending marriage that would have left her homeless, and a book seller may have needed the commission from an estate sale sooner than a natural death would have allowed. Howard Tracey, the local chief of police who has never dealt with a murder before, has heard of Graham's penchant for solving mysteries and asks her help him with his investigation. She'll have to sift the good herbs from the bad to find the right potion to reveal a callous murderer.

A fairly solid cozy mystery. Several motives to work through and a decent attempt at fair play. The characters are mildly interesting but could have been given a bit more depth to spice things up a bit. Enjoyable enough for a quick read, but not necessarily a series that I will deliberately seek out. ★★

Fulfills "Holiday" category for the Cruisin' Thru the Cozies Challenge. The murder takes place after a Midsummer's Night (Summer Solstice) celebration and the villain is caught by the light of the fireworks on Independence Day.

No comments: