Author: Laura Childs
This was another book I took with me on the recent trip to North Carolina, but I didn't start reading it until I got back home. This second book in the Charleston, South Carolina-based Tea Shop Mystery series (I reviewed the first - Death by Darjeeling - last December) was even better than the first, IMHO (in my humble opinion). In fact, I'd love to jump right into Book #3, but that would violate my self-imposed rules of reading. :-)
Gunpowder Green starts out with main character Theodosia Browning and her staff providing tea service for a large gathering of people watching the annual Regatta yacht race. One of the more prominent members of Charleston society has the honor of discharging the antique gun that ends the race, but when the gun goes off, it misfires and kills the man. At first, most people think it was an accident. But Theodosia has her suspicions, especially when the brother of an old acquaintance becomes the prime suspect.
One of the things I most like about this series is the likeable characters. Tea shop owner Theodosia is just the right balance between the "snooty" and the down-to-earth: she enjoys the finer things in life, but hasn't lost touch with her rural roots. Drayton, Indigo Tea Shop's tea master, is one of my favorite characters in the series. He reminds me of any number of "Renaissance men" I've known in my life. I also like Haley, the tea shop's young baker, who in addition to having a talent for producing delicious baked goods, has a heart of gold.
A few of the secondary characters who made things interesting (challenging?) in the first book were back in Gunpowder Green. Crotchety Detective Tidwell's appreciation of both tea and Theodosia appears to be growing, and I foresee some sort of mutually respectable friendship on the horizon (not sure about anything else at this point, but it seems to be possible if things don't work out between Theodosia and her attorney boyfriend Jory.) The snobby Timothy Neville let down a little of his guard in this book, leading me to believe that Theodosia will win him over . . . eventually.
I also like the Charleston setting. As I said in the Death by Darjeeling entry, Charleston is the perfect city for a mystery/crime series . . . it's got history, interesting people and cultural traditions, and that oh-so-Southern Gothic charm. I'm really surprised that more Hollywood types haven't figured this out. In fact, I predict that a CSI: Charleston would go over really well . . . just in case anyone out there in Hollywoodland is reading this.