Monday, March 25, 2019

Sweet Tea and Secrets (A Tea and Read Mystery #2)

Author:  Joy Avon
Genre:   Mystery

Hardcover; Digital Book
ISBN:  9781643850238
Crooked Lane Books
$26.99; $12.99 Amazon
June 11, 2019


Last Christmas, Callie Aspen left her tour guide job and settled in Heart's Harbor, Maine.  Now, she helps out at Book Tea, her great aunt's vintage tearoom, where each treat has a bookish clue.  Though she's excited to start her new life, Callie worries she may regret having burned her bridges behind her.  Fortunately, she finds immediate distraction in the preparations for a spectacular Fourth of July tea party, which will recreate moments from the town's rich history.

Intrigued to learn that 1980s TV star Monica Walker was last seen in Heart's Harbor before she vanished - allegedly to elope - Callie probes the townsfolk for information.  She's stunned when several locals share contradictory stories about the last day before Monica's disappearance.  Did she intend to leave her hit TV series?  Was she being stalked by her ex?  And why is the newspaper editor who investigated the stroy at the time so anxious about the cold case heating up?

When one of the talkative townspeople turns up dead, Callie aims to catch the killer.  But it's no picnic: Deputy Falk doesn't want her meddling, and the locals suddenly know more about the past than they'd been at liberty to admit.  If Callie and the Book Tea crew can't crack the case, they'll pay a very steep price.


Callie Aspen has left her job as an international tour guide and returned home to Heart's Harbor, Maine, to help her aunt Iphy run Book Tea, the tearoom her aunt owns.  She's having a little trepidation about it, though, especially when she sees the cottage her aunt has rented for her.  From the outside, it appears a bit of a disaster, but Iphy assures her that she's put an ad in town for a handyman, and things can be fixed.

They also discover a man outside the home measuring things, and when Callie confronts him, he identifies himself as Quinn Darrow, says he saw the ad and decided to come and look at the place.  When he offers a very good estimate, Callie hires him.  While still at the cottage, Iphy mentions how Callie needs to help plan the Fourth of July celebration, and adds that Quinn can help her, which he readily agrees to.  But when Quinn and Callie go to the town's archives, he steers her toward an old cold case that he thinks will be a hit with the townspeople.

Callie's also having questions about whether she made the right decision to move when Deputy Falk, whom she had (and still does) an attraction to when she was home in December now seems to be aloof to her and keeping his distance.  She's wondering if maybe he's regretting her coming back.

In 1989 an actress disappeared into thin air after arriving in Heart's Harbor, and no one knew if she left on her own, with someone else, or was murdered.  After Callie and Quinn question a local regarding the case, that person is murdered.  Now Callie wonders if Quinn was involved, and so does Deputy Falk.  When Quinn's caught in several lies, Callie wants to know what his connection is to the case.  But when she starts investigating to find a killer, she sees that things not only aren't always as they seem, but sometimes the truth can be closer than you think...

I read the first in the series and while I felt it was a decent enough beginning, I have to say that I liked this second one so much better.  The mystery was done very well, with clues strewn about here and there, yet not overt at all; Callie is having doubts about her move, which is natural, and she's finding her way with Deputy Falk which might not be as difficult as she at first thinks.

Callie shows that she is a strong woman who is willing to compromise, and she's smart, serious, and willing to see all sides of a situation before she acts.  She doesn't put herself into untenable situations or do stupid things, and I really like that.  She can keep secrets if need be, and that shows integrity - which I have always found important in a person.

When the ending comes and the murderer is revealed, I really enjoyed the scene.  It was a bit surreal in a way, and that made it all the better.  The killer came as a bit of a surprise, even as there were, as I mentioned before, clues aplenty; still it was done nicely and all the ends were woven together well.  We are given a clue as to where the next book will go, a bit of a teaser, as it were.  I thoroughly enjoyed this one.  Recommended.


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