MURDER WITH LEMON TEA CAKES – Karen Rose Smith
A Daisy Tea Garden Mystery , Book 1 of 2
Willow Creek, Pennsylvania,
A lot has happened to Daisy Swanson in the three years since she became a widow. She and her two teenaged daughters moved from Florida back to her home town, a small, friendly place in Amish country near Lancaster, PA. Daisy and her Aunt Iris got together to buy an old Victorian and turn it into a tea garden, where they serve delicious baked goods and brew a large assortment of teas in a friendly atmosphere. Daisy's elder daughter, Violet, is off at her first year of college. Fifteen year-old Jazzi has not been her happy self lately. (Jazzy is the nickname she prefers to Jazmine—all the women in the family are named for flowers.) Aunt Iris is happy, though. She has lately been seeing Harvey Fitz, the successful owner of a high end men's store. They hope to marry once his divorce papers are signed by his present greedy wife.
Calamity strikes when Harvey's dead body is found out in the garden by Iris. When looking for Iris, Daisy finds her upset over Harvey!
The local chief of police seems satisfied that Iris is the murderer, but the ladies have friends who rally around. One is Cade Bankert, the realtor who helped Daisy find the old Victorian and the barn she converted into a pleasant house. Another is a from-childhood friend who helps in the business and lives upstairs. Then there is Jonas Groft, an ex-detective who retired from the Philadelphia P.D. and opened a furniture store in Willow Creek. He introduced the ladies to Attorney Marshall Thomson. Several other characters help make this a story rich in personalities.
Ms. Smith has a talent for drawing a reader into a book. The people come alive, and so do the settings. She can describe a place without becoming tedious. The murder has enough possible motives and suspects to keep one wondering. And Jazzi's quandary, while not connected to the murder, turns out to be a moving one.
For a cozy yet stimulating read, add MURDER WITH LEMON TEA CAKES, and I defy you not to get hungry along the way. Look for a recipe or three in the back of the book, along with a teaser for the next in the Daisy's Tea Garden Mystery series, MURDER WITH CINNAMON SCONES.