Guilty as charged: I judged this book entirely by its cover. I had not heard of Vicki Delany before I saw this book on the “librarian’s picks” shelf at my local library, but a cover with a table set for afternoon tea in the foreground, a cat sleeping on a windowsill, and sailboats in the background, well, to quote Rodgers and Hammerstein, these are a few of my favorite things. I love a good cozy mystery so I threw this one into my already too full book bag.
Vicki Delany is a prolific author with over 40 books to her credit, mostly cozy mysteries. Murder in a Teacup (Kensington, July 2021), a quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed, is actually the second in a series, so I have to go back now and find #1, Tea and Treachery (Kensington, July 2020), to get the back story on some of the characters from #2. Book #3 in the Tea by the Sea series, Murder Spills the Tea (also Kensington) will be out later this month. Sign me up, I’m hooked on the capers, pun intended ;-), that protagonist Lily Roberts gets into.
Delany did a good job of giving me enough background on the recurring characters to set the stage for this second installment of the series. Lily Roberts is a professional pastry chef who left her home and work in Manhattan to run a tearoom on the estate of her grandmother’s Victorian bed and breakfast inn on Cape Cod. In a subtle nod to one of my favorite British television comedies, Keeping Up Appearances, where the main character Hyacinth has three sisters, Rose, Daisy, and Violet (room for a pony IYKYK), Lily’s grandmother is Rose while her own mother’s name is Petunia.
A sudden death in a hotel is bad enough, but when it comes to light that the guest had just eaten in the hotel’s tearoom, the police storm in and clean out the tearoom’s kitchen of the already prepared foods as well as all the ingredients stored for future bakes. Lily and her best friend Bernie, with the unsolicited assistance of Rose, have no choice but to try to clear the name of the tearoom and inn before the locked doors put them all out of business.
I’ve never been to Cape Cod but the setting of this book makes me wish for a stay in a Victorian inn with its very own British tearoom, where I could sit on the veranda reading a cozy mystery, and later take an after-dinner walk along the pier to get an ice cream cone while listening to the waves crash along the shore. Until then, I’ll lap up Vicki Delany’s Tea by the Sea series and dream on.