Title: Murder Spills the Tea (A Tea by the Sea Mystery #3)
Author: Vicki Delany
Published on: 26 July 2022
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Murder Spills the Tea is the third book in Vicki Delany’s Tea by the Sea Mystery series.
American Bakes! the hottest TV cooking show in the country is coming to Cape Cod. Against her better judgement, Lily Roberts is entering the contest with her charming tea room, Tea by the Sea. Filming is already proving disruptive, closing the tearoom during Lily’s busiest season.
Tensions reach an all-time high when infamous bad-boy chef and celebrity judge Thomas Greene picks up a fight with one of Lily’s staff. The whole scene is caught on camera. Just when Lily thinks the competition cannot get worse, Tommy is found dead in the kitchen the next morning… murdered with Lily’s marble rolling pin.
The staff with whom Thomas picked up a fight is suspected of murder. Lily doesn’t know much about her staff’s personal life but she’s sure they are not a murderer. Almost anyone associated with Tommy or the show had clashed with him in the past. Did one of them kill him in a fit of rage? Or was it one of his fellow judges?
Wow! What a fantabulous and completely engrossing mystery! I have been following this series from the start and I absolutely love the theme – Tearoom. I am a tea drinker and cannot function without an afternoon cuppa of hot chai (and biscuits to dunk).
The story begins with Lily prepping for the first day of shooting. She does not want to participate in America Bakes! but her best friend Bernie had enrolled her without asking her first. The kitchen is small for three people and now there’s a crowd – the cameraman, producer and others associated with the shooting. The celebrity judges have arrived and so have the customers.
During the shooting, Marybeth, one of Lily’s staff, accidentally spills hot tea over Tommy’s lap. Cannot blame her , though. Tommy purposely moved at the last minute so as to cause a scene. He belittles Marybeth and tells Lily to fire her incompetent staff. Marybeth’s mother Cheryl also works as a waitress at Tea by the Sea. She loses her cool and fights back with Tommy. The whole scene is caught on camera.
The same evening, Tommy apologizes to Lily and also tells her he has apologized to Marybeth. Lily sees the other side of Tommy – the sweet and friendly version of him. She retires to her cottage, leaving Tommy to explore the garden. The next morning, she sees the kitchen door of her tearoom open. When she enters, she finds Tommy lying dead in a pool of blood.
Detectives Williams and Redmond are called in. Previous afternoon’s tiff between the victim and Cheryl is made known and Williams suspects Cheryl of killing Tommy in a fit of rage. But Lily is not convinced that Cheryl is the killer. She starts to dig deeper into the fellow judges and the show’s producer’s lives.
We have plenty of red herrings and suspects here. Not only Tommy’s fellow judges but Lily’s competitor too might have had a hand in Tommy’s murder. But detective Williams has his eyes set on Cheryl. He doesn’t want to look into other suspects so it is up to Lily to catch the real killer. As if, cooking and running a tearoom, participating in a contest and her part-time job at her grandmother Rose’s Victoria-by-the-sea B&B wasn’t enough work! Lily has her hands full!
I loved the TV-show murder plot. People would do anything for 15 minutes of fame but would they commit a crime? What about the celebrity judges – they seem so nice on camera but off camera, they are quite mean. Not to forget, Tommy was quite ‘famous’ with the opposite gender – well, women did not like his flirtatious behavior but that didn’t stop him from trying.
In the previous book, we were given a glimpse of a possible romance angle – between Bernie and Matt, and Lily and Simon. There is not much progress in this department so far. Cannot blame Lily though. She was quite busy cooking as well as solving a murder mystery. And Bernie is going through a spot of denial.
The mystery behind the murder kept me guessing till the end. The identity of the perp was a huge shocker. The same can be said about the events that leads to Lily coming face-to-face with the killer.
If you are looking for an entertaining and enjoyable cozy mystery, I recommend you to give Murder Spills the Tea by Vicki Delany a try.
Many thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for the ARC. This is my honest and unbiased opinion.