Thursday, May 12, 2016

Tea Cups and Carnage (A Tourist Trap Mystery #7)

Author:  Lynn Cahoon
Genre:  Mystery

Paperback, Ebook
ISBN #:  9781601836328
Lyrical Underground Publishing
192 Pages
$15.00, $5.99 Amazon
June 7, 2016
Five Stars

The quaint coastal town of South Cove, California, is all abuzz about the opening of a new specialty shop, Tea Hee.  But as Coffee, Books, and More owner Jill Gardner is about to find out, there's nothing cozy about murder...

Shop owner Kathi Corbin says she came to South Cove to get away from her estranged family.  But is she telling the truth?  And did a sinister someone from her past follow her to South Cove?  When a woman claiming to be Kathi's sister starts making waves and a dead body is found in a local motel, Jill must step in to clear Kathi's name -- without getting herself in hot water.


Kathi Corbin, ex-beauty queen, has just moved to South Cove with the intention of opening a specialty tea shop, one that sells handcrafted teas and accessories.  While Jill, owner of Coffee, Books, and More, is all too happy to welcome another business to the town, she's not so sure about the appearance of Kathi's sister Ivy, whom Jill thinks might be hiding something.  That thought only escalates when a dead body is found at the motel where Ivy was staying temporarily.

But there is more to worry about for Jill than just a dead body:  there is the crazed motorcycle rider a stranger whom no one knows about, and he has caused Jill's Aunt Jackie to fall and sprain her ankle because of his actions.  Then there is the fact that Josh, her business neighbor and owner of Antiques by Thomas, appears in her shop one day and asks her to make his bank deposits for a week or two, yet is being mysterious about where he's going and why.  Plus there's Aunt Jackie's announcement, which has her stunned; and of course, the question of the missing $3,000 check that was cashed yet no one knows where the money is...

Jill certainly has her hands full; she's not only handling her 'to-do' list, she now has a task set by Josh, (who's never been overly friendly with her), her friend Mary,owner of the local B & B who had to leave town for her grandchild's birth, has asked her to give a presentation in Mary's place, and Aunt Jackie's errands, since she's out of commission due to her ankle.  There is also the Summer Beach Blast, which is Jill's first chance to try out her new food truck, and a library fundraiser that is also garnering part of her attention.  So it's sort of a relief to Greg, Jill's boyfriend and police chief of South Cove, that she doesn't have time to investigate the murder of the man in the motel...

...Except she does.  Not that she intends to when she tells Greg she's staying out of it.  But when Kathi is accused of the murder, Jill knows she's not capable of it and wants to help her, but she also knows that Kathi is hiding something, and isn't sharing with anyone.  So somehow, in between her busy schedule, she manages to glean information here and there - after all, Jill being Jill, even Greg has to know she's got a curious nature.  But the more she digs, the more things aren't adding up, and Jill's curiosity might once again send her down the path of danger.

Jill is indeed intrepid, intelligent, thoughtful, and, in this case, just a tad harried as she takes on almost more than she can handle, but with her deep sense of responsibility and loyalty, manages to keep her wits about her (for the most part).  It's no denying though, that with all her added duties (albeit temporary ones) she becomes forgetful at times, and it's seriously cutting into her time with Greg, (not to mention his investigation of the dead man).  It's not surprising that she begins daydreaming occasionally, even if it is distracting to those around her...

I found this book, the seventh in the Tourist Trap Mysteries, to be just as delightful as the previous ones.  There is a lot happening at once in this installment, and although we have the usual characters from other books who either show up or are mentioned (Mary and Bill, Sadie and her son Nick, Amy, Esmeralda, etc.), we learn something about Lille that makes her more human, and it gives you a warm fuzzy just to know it, and even Josh proves that underneath it all, he 's a stand-up kind of guy.  I also like the new character of Kathi and hope to see more of her as the series progresses.

The ending wasn't truly a surprise, but then again, it didn't have to be; it satisfied and was plausible.  Questions were answered, expectations were met; and I love learning more about the residents of South Cove.  Ms. Cahoon has written a series that eases us into the lives of those people, as if we were there and learning about them right along with Jill.  Highly recommended.

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