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Mystery author #33: Laura Childs

Title: Shades of Earl Grey
Series detective: Theodosia ‘Theo’ Browning
No. in series: 3
Year of publication: 2003
Type of mystery: Theft, possible manslaughter
Type of investigator: Amateur
Setting & time: Charleston, SC, USA; modern timeless

Story: When a number of valuable antiques are stolen and a young groom is tragically killed in a possibly theft-related incident, Theodosia seems to be the only one who thinks there might be a cat burglar specialising in antiques at work in Charleston. Some speculation and a little investigation reveals three possible suspects, and she and her sidekick, Drayton, plan a trap to capture the thief.

SPOILER WARNING:


Review: I love cozy mysteries and I had expectations of this book, but unfortunately it fell a long way from those expectations. It’s cozy all right, but the plotting is weak and the sleuthing consists mostly of conjecture and asking a friendly police officer some questions. Additionally, the sleuth commits what to me amounts to a crime: in a fit of TSTL she does something so incredibly stupid and dangerous that one can only assume her common sense has been surgically removed. I don’t care if the criminal was “only” a thief, she had no way of knowing that, and while she sensibly brought her attack-trained dog along, it was still stupid. I know we are supposed to suspend our disbelief when reading fiction, but in the face of something like this mine refuses to let itself be suspended.

The characters have little depth – as a matter of fact the author’s idea of describing a character’s personality seems to consist of describing that they are wearing. It gets repetitive after the second time for each character, as does the endless, pointless tea drinking. I know it’s supposed to create a cosy atmosphere, but one detailed description of tea drinking is enough, whereas there is one in almost every third chapter. (And I happen to be a tea drinker myself).

However, according to some reviews I found on the web, this book does not live up to the standard set by the previous two books in the series, so I am going to give Childs a second chance, but should I discover her sleuth being TSTL again, she will be going on my Do Not Read list.

As usual, there will be no author review until I have read a second book.

Rating: A cosy mystery that is more cosy than it is mysterious, with a clueless sleuth to boot. 2 stars.

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