Title: Murder in the Tea Leaves (Blake Sisters Travel Mystery #2)
Author: Carter Fielding
Published on: 16 April 2022
Genre: Cozy Mystery
The Blake sisters are back! This time, they are heading to Sri Lanka, a place they have been before. Finley Blake, a young travel writer, was assigned to do a story in India and was looking forward to spending some time with her beau Max (who is currently working on a project in Delhi.) But plans were changed at the last minute and Finley is now heading to Sri Lanka. A little heart-broken that she cannot spend time with the man she loves, Finley calls her sister and travel partner Whitt.
Whitt lives in Manila and agrees to join her elder sister in Sri Lanka. Both sisters have been to the country before and they will spend their time exploring places they missed on their previous trip. Their idyllic vacation is initially interrupted by monkey menace. And then, a murder...
Murder in the Tea Leaves is the second book in Carter Fielding’s Blake Sisters Travel Mystery series.
The Blake Sisters Travel Mystery has made it to my list of favorite cozy mysteries. This cozy mystery series has all the things I look for in a story – murder and mystery, likable characters, excellent storytelling, and a visual tour of wonderful places around the world.
In Murder in the Tea Leaves, we see Blake sisters travelling to Sri Lanka. Carter Fielding has done an excellent job in giving us readers a virtual tour of the place. The scenic train ride in Nuwara Eliya, temple of the sacred tooth relic, Galle Dutch Fort, Sigiriya Lion’s foot, Udawalawe National park safari and a tea factory tour. I am ticking off Sri Lanka from my bucket list. Where are we going next, Carter? 🙂
In the previous book, we saw Finley and her estranged boyfriend, Max make amends and give their relationship another chance. Meanwhile, Whitt and her boyfriend David are going strong. However, as the story begins, Finley feels Whitt is trying to avoid talking about her love life. Is there trouble in paradise? In Murder in the Medina, Max, Finley, Whitt and David called themselves ‘The Four Musketeers.’ They ended up solving a trafficking ring case with the help of Interpol agent Evans.
But now, only two of the four musketeers are in Sri Lanka when they come across a murder in the tea factory. The victim is one of the guests residing in their hotel. The local inspector, Dev Perera, suspects Finley of having a hand in the murder. The Blake sisters are angry; all they wanted to do was help the inspector but they ended up as suspects!
There also seems to be some monkey business going on in all the hotels they visit. Rooms are in a state of mess when they return from their day trip. And once, one of the other hotel guests reached their room to find a monkey ruffling through their belongings. I know, right. I have been to a couple of tourist places filled with monkeys. Ugh! Pesky creatures who snatch ice cream, packets of chips and bottles of soft drinks from tourists.
Then comes another murder. This time, it is someone the Blake sisters were acquainted with. With no Max, David or Interpol agent Evans in their midst, the sisters have to solve this case alone. Or,… do they?
When the Blake sisters go on a tea leaves plucking and tea factory tour, I remembered a similar tour that I had been to a couple of years ago. Munnar in Kerala is also known for its tea estates. I was a part of a tour group and thanks to rain and traffic, we reached the city late in the evening. Though we missed the factory tour, we had time to drop by at the store adjoining to the factory. We purchased 4 kilos of tea! What can I say? We love our hot cup of chai in the morning and evening. Our day starts with chai and rusk (or bun) and another hot cuppa (with biscuits) in the evening. 😀
Before reading this book, I did not know that the flavor and color of tea varies with altitude. The Blake sisters are given two cups of tea, one made of tea leaves grown at a higher altitude and is yellow ochre in color. I also remember a chapter we had in class 10 geography – growing tea in India. This chapter included weather conditions, temperature and atmospheric conditions, how to process tea… the only thing missing was how to make milky chai and dunk biscuits in it. 😉
I absolutely enjoyed reading this book. We had a heatwave followed by heavy rains which made it a perfect time to read this book – with a steaming cup of chai (and biscuits) by the side. The mystery behind the murders and the monkey menace kept me guessing till the end. I won’t give away any spoilers but the monkey menace reminded me of the movie – Dunston Checks In.
The second half of the book is where things get a little tense. One of the guests they met on the tour is murdered. Also, a couple of other guests visit the same places that the sisters do – bringing about a sense of ‘are they following us?’ feeling. The ending is simply fantastic. The Blake sisters did not know they walked into a trap until it was too late… but they came out of it uninjured. That is what matters at the end, innit?
If you love travel-themed mysteries, you might want to give Carter Fielding’s Murder in the Tea Leaves a read. Believe me, you will enjoy the mystery as well as a visual and virtual tour of Sri Lanka sitting at the comforts of your reading nook.
Many thanks to Books Go Social and NetGalley for the ARC.