Tea party organizer Callie Aspen learns that Cupid’s arrows can be deadly when a Valentine’s Day soiree ends in murder.
Callie Aspen can’t think of a more appropriate place to spend Valentine’s Day than her adopted hometown of Heart’s Harbor, Maine. When she’s not helping out at Book Tea, her great-aunt Iphy’s vintage tearoom, Callie’s adorning Haywood Hall with hearts and roses for the big Valentine’s event, where townspeople will fall in love with sweet treats, heartwarming music, and delightful books. But tension is brewing: The librarian argues with the expert who is on hand to appraise precious volumes. And Iphy is shocked to recognize the baritone who’s slated to sing at the event as an old acquaintance–one she’d hoped she’d never meet again. And then, when a dead body is discovered, the stirring spoon of suspicion points at the many people who had reasons to want the victim dead.
When Iphy’s old acquaintance draws the attention of Deputy Ace Falk, Callie finds herself in a spot. Ace, as usual, doesn’t want Callie involved, but how can she ignore Iphy’s anguish over the fate of a man she cares for more than she will admit? Bringing the killer to justice may endanger Callie’s budding relationship with Ace–and, quite possibly, her own life.
Callie and the Book Tea crew may think they have this case in the bag, but un-kettling truths are yet to be decanted.
My Review | ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Things were undoubtedly cold in In Cold Chamomile. I loved the cozy mystery and the intricate puzzle it provided, but I was left cold by the characters and their actions.
What I Love
The Cozy plot is masterful with its misdirections and false leads. Red herrings are planted sublimely and led me to a delightfully shocking big reveal. Looking back, I can see that the clues are all there, but the story successfully led me down the wrong path. I love this! As I have mentioned in other reviews, my favorite part of a mystery, especially a cozy mystery, is the puzzle aspect and this story delivers wonderfully,
I love the set up of the plot – a book appraiser, who left everyone sad about the lack of value of their appraised books, is stabbed with a pair of scissors. Appraisers notoriously have that air of scandal about them, so this set up is intellectually perfect. And the character is written in such a way that I did picture a weasley, cunning, little man.
I also loved that the book is so stimulating and smart. As I mentioned before, the puzzle aspect is absolutely masterful and satisfying.
What I Wish
I didn’t include a favorite character section this time because frankly, I did not have one, which is such a disappointment. I couldn’t connect to the characters that I loved in Sweet Tea and Secrets, and the new support characters left me with a blah feeling. Aunt Iphy came across as blindly selfish, and Ace Fauk, who was a bit annoying in the last book, seemed to show progress in this installment only to revert again. The main character, Callie – I wanted her to stand up to everybody that was running roughshod all over her – I badly wanted this. I thought she was a strong female lead in Sweet Tea and Secrets, but In Cold Chamomile’s Callie is unsympathetically weak. The story is set up for a potentially significant change going forward, and I hope that includes a substantial leap for the main characters.
To Read or Not to Read
I enjoyed Sweet Tea and Secrets so much and couldn’t wait to delve into #3, and the mystery aspect did not disappoint. Unfortunately, the characters did leave me with a bad taste, and I hope that they redeem themselves in future novels.