Thursday, November 15, 2018

ARC Review: In Peppermint Peril by Joy Avon

In Peppermint Peril
Author: Joy Avon
Series: A Book Tea Shop Mystery (Book 1)
Publication: Crooked Lane Books (November 13, 2018)

Description: In the run-up to Christmas Eve, organizer of book-themed tea parties Callie Aspen and her lovable Boston terrier will have to conquer threefold trouble―a mysterious will, a missing heirloom and a dead body―to restore the festive spirit to their small town.

This Christmas, Callie Aspen returns to her childhood hideout Heart's Harbor, Maine where her great aunt runs Book Tea, a vintage tearoom where every sweet treat contains a bookish clue. Upon arrival in the fairy-tale snowy town, Callie is drawn into the preparations for a special tea party at Haywood Hall, the rambling house of Heart's Harbor's oldest resident, rich but lonely widow Dorothea Finster, who invited her estranged relatives, old friends and the elite of the town to make a mysterious announcement about her will.

Believing they can touch a part of her fortune, everybody is determined to come, despite not liking each other or even their hostess. And Callie's old friend Sheila complicates things by using the tea party to announce her daughter's engagement, even though her daughter isn't sure she's in love with the young lawyer her mother thinks so perfect for her.

Catering to people who each have their own agenda isn't easy for the Book Tea crew, especially once the valuable engagement ring goes missing and a dead body turns up in the conservatory. Can Callie and her great aunt use their love of clues to dig into the crimes and show their unhappy hostess and squabbling guests the true Christmas spirit?

My Thoughts: Callie Aspen, who spends most of her time as tour guide in Europe, is back home in Heart's Harbor, Maine, spending the Christmas season with her great aunt and the vintage tea room she runs. She is helping her aunt cater a tea at Haywood Hall which is owned by Dorothea Finster. Callie spent a lot of time there when she was a child. She even had a crush on Stephen Du Bouvrais who is presumed to be Dorothea's heir. But Stephen married another friend - Sheila- and they haven't seen each other for years.

Dorothea has gathered quite a crew to hear the reading of her will. The mayor and his wife are there hoping from funding to improve the town. The leader of the town council is also there hoping for money for his pet projects. A new school teacher was also invited and she hopes for some funds to improve the school. Sheila and Stephen, along with their daughter Amber, are also staying with Dorothea. Ben, Dorothea's lawyer and Amber's boyfriend, is also at the party. Also in the house are the housekeeper - Mrs. Keats - and the gardener Mr. Leadenby who used to tell the kids wonderful stories.

Sheila has her own agenda for the tea party. She wants to use the occasion to "encourage" Ben to propose to Amber by hiding a valuable family ring in the cake. Callie's aunt is in on the plan and creates a hollow in the cake that will be filled with the ring. But things don't go at all as Sheila hopes. The ring box is empty and Amber doesn't want to marry Ben. She is much more interested in a young man who is a handyman in town. Amber runs from the room and the next thing we hear is her scream. She's found Leadenby dead from a stab wound in his conservatory.

The murder case falls into the hands of Deputy Falk but Callie isn't going to step aside. The investigation was nicely twisty since many of the people at the party had reasons to kill Leadenby and others are willing to lie to protect others at the party. Callie and Falk have a difficult time untangling all the stories.

This was a nice small town mystery. The characters were interesting. I liked Callie and empathized with her difficult decision about continuing her life as it is or trying something new in a town that feels like home. I liked that she was worried about the dog she adopted after its owner's death. She wanted to find Daisy a good home but knew it would be hard to leave her behind.

The one thing this cozy was missing was recipes. I would love to have recipes for some of the treats Aunt Iphigeneia makes in her Tea Room.

Favorite Quote:
"She wants this Agatha Christie vibe: the big gathering, the denouement. Not of a murderer, fortunately, but of the lucky person who will take home part of her fortune."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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