In Too Steep by Kate Kingsbury

Title: In Too Steep (Misty Bay Tea Room Mystery #2)

Author: Kate Kingsbury

Published on: 9 August 2022

Genre: Cozy Mystery

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Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

In Too Steep is the second book in Kate Kingsbury’s Misty Bay Tea Room Mystery series.

It seemed like a simple case: the murder of Lewis Trenton, a beachcomber who lived alone in a cabin in the Oregon hills. But the newspaper article piques the interest of Vivian Wainwright, owner of the British-style Misty Bay Tearoom. The photo accompanying the article shows Lewis’s cluttered living room, and on the shelf is a replica of Big Ben. Vivian is sure she sold the clock a week before in her shop. Who could have given the replica to Lewis?

Unable to keep from doing a bit of sleuthing, Vivian hunts down the replica in a local thrift shop, noticing that the base is missing, rendering it worthless, but just as Vivian is about to throw it in the trash, a sparkle catches her eye. It’s a diamond, hidden away in a crevice in the clock. Vivian takes the diamond to Detective Tony Messina, who identifies it as part of a jewelry heist in Portland a month earlier. Portland police think Lewis was the fence who sold the jewels, and that he was killed after double-crossing the thieves—but Messina doesn’t believe the story.

What was the true motive behind Lewis’s murder? How did he come upon the diamond? And what secrets can the clock tell—before the killer strikes again?

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This is the second tearoom-themed cozy mystery I have come across. I suppose there are a lot of cozy series based on a café theme. I am a tea drinker (and biscuit dunker; no point in drinking tea if you cannot dunk bikkis in it) and it makes me very happy to see these mysteries based around a tearoom – lots of tea and baked goodies. 😀

Having said that, this story was not up to my expectation. Firstly, the Misty Bay Tearoom serves just one type of tea. What??? The main character, Vivian, is a bit stubborn and bossy. It’s been two years since she opened the tearoom and hired two assistants. Yet, the assistants do not have a key to their workplace and Vivian does not allow them to bake. There is a scene (in the second half of the book) where Jenna says she would prepare a few sandwiches and stuff in case they have more customers. Viv replies that it’s not necessary, she’s made enough and there won’t be more-than-expected footfall.

Making her assistants wait at the door while she goes sleuthing, certainly not my kind of employer! The trio sit to drink tea and gorge on baked goodies – the first thing they do as they open the tearoom. Hal, Viv’s friend (and later, lover) pops in too – Viv gives him a baked goodie in exchange for walking her dog, Felix. Hal too deserves a treat after a walk – Viv says so. Lol!

Too much of chit-chat for my liking. When Viv learns the media has falsely accused the murder victim, she decides to take matters in her own hands and prove their innocence. I did not understand nor like Viv’s obsession with wanting to prove a stranger innocent. Also, in the second half of the book, she learns the victim was so poor they could not afford a toilet – they did it in the woods. Viv cannot seem to get rid of the thought that the victim did not have a toilet at home.

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Coming to Viv’s relationship with Hal – they start as friends when the story begins. When Hal falls sick and has to have an operation, he kisses Viv. They get into a relationship the next day and Hal cannot wait to take the next step. Fast Forward Relationship. 😀

The final straw – which I found quite funny – was when Viv comes face-to-face with the killer and pleads not to kill her. They say, “okay, I trust you so I will only tie you up”. Huh? If the killer was so considerate, they could have let Viv go, right? After all, they trust her…

In Too Steep by Kate Kingsbury was not my kinda cozy mystery. I loved the mystery behind the murder but neither the characters nor their need for sleuthing was up to my liking.


I received an ARC from Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.

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