by Sandra Murphy
This week we are reviewing Laura Childs latest mystery Devonshire Scream. We also have an interesting interview with Laura. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of this book, along with a link to purchase it where a portion goes to help support KRL, and a link to buy it from Amazon.
Devonshire Scream by Laura Childs
Review by Sandra Murphy
Brooke owns Heart’s Desire Fine Jewelry. She’s managed to gather jewelers, museums, and private collectors all under one roof to showcase the best of the best in precious gems. Theodosia and the Indigo Tea Shop are catering the event with jeweled scones (candied fruits) and fabulous teas.
Haley is Theodosia’s assistant in name only. In the kitchen, she’s definitely in charge. Drayton is in charge of blending teas. Everyone is enjoying the evening when a roar is heard and a huge black truck rams through the front window of the jewelry store. Masked men jump out and proceed to grab all the gems they can, and manage to get nearly everything before one yells, “Time,” and they disappear.
There are a lot of injuries, from falls and broken glass mostly, but one fatality. Kaitlin, Brooke’s twenty-year old niece, had a shard of glass in her throat and died before help could arrive. Now it’s not just grand theft, but murder.
Brooke begs Theodosia to help find the thieves since Theo’s been involved in cases before. When the FBI swoops in and takes over from the local police, she finds support in a surprising place. Detective Tidwell has always told her to leave investigating to the professionals. Now he’s encouraging her to snoop? It’s because he hates having his case taken away from him.
There are a number of suspects on the list. There’s a gang of international jewel thieves, the new-in-town couple who sell high-end yachts, the professor doing research, and a likeable man who seems very involved in the Historical Society’s ins and outs, considering he’s a newcomer too.
As bad as the news is for the jewelry store, the Society’s fear is for their event. They’ll have an authentic Faberge egg on display. If the thieves strike again…the egg is nearly priceless.
Drayton has always been reluctant for Theodosia to snoop—not as much as Tidwell, but close. This time he actually goes along to help, letting readers see a new side of his personality.
As usual, Delaine, owner of the Cotton Duck clothing store, has a new boyfriend. As usual, she’s totally in love. And as usual, you can bet something is going to derail her romance.
Haley has a boyfriend too. Theo’s not sure about him; he rides a motorcycle, and witnesses to the jewelry store heist report hearing a motorcycle just before the thieves left. The rider could have been their lookout.
There’s a robbery at the opera, more close calls, and through it all, lots of tea and scones, all coming together like a fine tea blend to offer a satisfactory conclusion. Although you’ll pick out a favorite suspect along the way, don’t count on it being the right one.
Look for recipes for strawberry cream cheese tea sandwiches, Devonshire cream, cheesy corn chowder, zucchini quiche, chocolate brownie tortes, prosciutto and fig butter tea sandwiches, cranberry cream scones, shortbread squares, Waldorf tea sandwiches, beef stroganoff, chocolate chip scones, plus tea time tips and resources, all at the back of the book.
This is book seventeen in the Tea Shop Mystery series. You can jump right in, but for the full effect, read them all. Childs also writes the scrapbooking series (13 books) and Cackleberry Club mysteries (6 books). You’ll love them as well.
Interview with Laura Childs:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Laura: Pretty much my whole life. I went from working on school newspapers to writing for the University of Minnesota’s PR department to working as a writer/producer in three multi-national ad agencies. Then I started my own advertising agency and opened offices in Minneapolis, MN and Austin, TX.
KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called? Can you tell us a little about it?
Laura: My first novel, Death by Darjeeling, was published in 2001. It was the first of 17 (so far!) Tea Shop Mysteries. These are fun, cozy, amateur sleuth mysteries featuring a woman named Theodosia who runs the Indigo Tea Shop in Charleston, SC. Theodosia is curious and generally a little too eager to get involved in unsolved murders, kidnappings, and haunted houses. But therein lies the story!
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense? If not, what else have you written?
Laura: A multitude of TV and radio commercials, short films, three screenplays, and a reality TV show. Once, during a particularly dry stretch at Grey Advertising, I wrote horoscopes for the National Enquirer. They asked if I wanted to become a stringer, but I politely declined.
KRL: How interesting! Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Laura: Absolutely I write to entertain. Books compete against television, feature films, shopping malls, theme parks, concerts, the Internet, casinos, sled dog races, you name it. I want whoever plunks down their hard-earned money for one of my books to have a rollicking good time!
KRL: Do you have a schedule for writing or just write whenever you can?
Laura: Since I write four different series (Tea Shop Mysteries, Cackleberry Club Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Afton Tangler Thrillers), I write all the time. My writing schedule is Monday through Friday from nine in the morning to six at night and Sunday from noon until seven.
KRL: Do you outline?
Laura: I outline like crazy, starting with a big sheet of paper where I write down all my key plot points and color code my characters. Then I transfer that bare bones outline to my computer, where I fill it in a lot more, sketch in a few scenes and take the whole thing to about eighty pages. When that feels good and strong, I go back to chapter one and write the book all the way through.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Laura: Not at all, but fifteen years ago editors weren’t quite so overwhelmed with work and submissions and I was happily riding the first wave of the cozy mystery phenomena.
KRL: Do you have a great acceptance story you’d like to share?
Laura: A dear friend introduced me to mystery great Mary Higgins Clark who not only gave me great advice, she shared her agent with me. Needless to say, my life suddenly became a whole lot easier.
KRL: What are you working on now?
Laura: I always work on two, sometimes three, books at once. Right now I’m working on Pekoe Most Poison (Tea Shop Mystery), Glitter Bomb (Scrapbook Mystery) and Shadow Girl (Afton Tangler Thriller).
KRL: Wow that’s a lot. Writing heroes?
Laura: John Sandford for his exquisite plotting, Stephen King for his heroic work output, Mary Higgins Clark because she really is the Queen of Suspense.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Laura: My research is done on an as-needed basis. If I need it, I do it. Otherwise, it takes away from my writing time.
KRL: What do you read?
Laura: I try to read three to four books a week. First I read them for fun, then I go back and rip them apart and do an autopsy. I figure out the structure, turning points, what’s to be gained/lost, etc. I read mostly mysteries and thrillers with some horror thrown in for good measure. (It’s fun to listen to your house creak and groan at two in the morning, right?)
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Laura: I love upscale trash TV like the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and any movie about World War II. How’s that for a stark contrast in taste?
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Laura: Read as many books as you can – and do so mindfully. You’ll pick up all sorts of techniques and tricks. Write as much as you can – the more you write the better you will become. If you’re working on a novel, just keep writing. Don’t go back to polish it, just get the whole exciting story down on paper. Okay, now go back. Chances are, that book you thought was a jumble will probably look pretty good. Oh, it does? Now you can polish it to your heart’s content. And one more thing. Don’t worry about that “write what you know” crap. Do you really think Max Brooks met a zombie? That Stephen King spent time inside a state prison? Okay then!
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Laura: Yes. Writing is a pretty tough business. Professional writers don’t sit around waiting for an idea to bubble up in their brain or the muse to whisper in their ear. They face their computer and gut out ten to twelve pages each and every day. If this sounds like something you desperately want to do, then go for it and God bless. If you’re unsure, please don’t quit your day job just yet.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Laura: Are you serious? Tell you about my flower child years? Even my husband doesn’t know about that!
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
Laura: You can find me at laurachilds.com and become a Facebook Friend by clicking through on my website. Love to have you!
KRL: Is there anything Theodosia doesn’t do well? The girl is perfect in everything!
Laura: For one thing, Theodosia doesn’t listen to Tidwell’s advice when he tells her to keep her nose out of a murder investigation. But seriously, she probably can’t cook nearly as well as Haley and she doesn’t categorically know the music and characters for every opera like Drayton does.
KRL: Any hope for her and Max?
Laura: Nope, Max took a job in Savannah, so he’s toast. But never fear, there’ll be some other handsome fellow on the horizon who has eyes for our Theo.
KRL: Will you give Drayton a love interest?
Laura: I think Drayton’s too persnickety for a love interest.
KRL: How about Detective Tidwell?
Laura: He’s a widower and will probably stay that way. On the other hand, I never thought about bringing in a love interest for him. Interesting idea.
KRL: Is there anything calm about Delaine?
Laura: Delaine is a cat person and when she’s with her two Siamese cats, or doing fund raising for animals, she’s able to remain quite focused and single-minded. Other than that she’s a hot mess.
KRL: Any thoughts on a crossover book? Carmela and Theodosia meet? Or one of them visits the Cackleberry Club?
Laura: I don’t think so. I’m afraid I’d make the plot too contrived instead of letting it unfold organically. Then again, you never know . . .
To enter to win a copy of Devonshire Scream, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “scream,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 19, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.
You can use this link to order this book & a portion goes to help support KRL & Mysterious Galaxy: