Laura Childs is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbooking Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. She’s been the CEO of her own marketing firm, authored screenplays, and produced a reality TV show. Her latest Tea Shop Mystery is Lavender Blue Murder.
Where the series began
“Twenty years ago, when I was noodling around ideas for my first Tea Shop Mystery, I realized that tea had become a huge thing. Something like eight different tea shops had opened in my city, and women’s groups, reading clubs, and even churches were suddenly staging high teas. That was truly my aha moment. I quickly got real smart about tea and tea culture, came up with a fictional tea shop – the Indigo Tea Shop in Charleston, SC – and created Theodosia, the charming, vivacious, and perpetually snoopy tea shop owner. From there I built a cadre of supporting characters. There was Drayton, the tea sommelier, and Haley, the baker, as well as quirky characters from shops up and down Church Street and a few upscale denizens of Charleston’s famed historic district. That was 22 books ago and my books and characters are still going strong!”
Over the years, Laura has done a number of things to research upcoming books. She’s had high tea at the Plaza in New York, shopped for coffins, visited gun stores and army surplus stores, interviewed cops and detectives, crawled through cemeteries, shot firearms, and visited a tea plantation in Japan. And, when she went on a crime scene analysis binge she sat through a lecture on mitochondrial DNA.
Part cozy mystery – part thriller
In Lavender Blue Murder, Laura explores the fractures that occur in a family after their patriarch is murdered during a bird hunt just outside Charleston, South Carolina. She said, “Secrets are revealed, unusual alliances formed, and fingers are pointed. Even secondary characters such as feuding neighbors and treasonous business partners get into the act. And much like the proverbial ‘thriller writer’s rule of thumb,’ I deliver a wild opening chapter, drop three or four bombshells throughout the story, then cap things off with gunfire and a wild cross-country chase.”
Laura said she wants readers to know they’re going to be entertained when they read Lavender Blue Murder. “I realize their time is limited and precious, so I always start my first chapter with a sensational murder. From there I keep the pace moving fast so I capture and hold their interest. I don’t believe in pages and pages of buildup – in fact, my agent once told me, ‘You’re writing murder mysteries, so you’d better have a dead body in the first chapter.’ Okay, then I play fair with my readers. Which means I never bring in the killer at the last moment. Yes, I weave a number of suspects all through the book, but there’s never that feeling of “where did he come from?” He (or she), the killer, has been there all along, rubbing shoulders with my main characters and even feeding them disinformation.”
Synopsis of Lavender Blue Murder
As tea shop owner Theodosia and her tea sommelier Drayton enjoy a British-style day of shooting at Creekmore Plantation, gunshots explode like Black Cat firecrackers. But the distinctive pop of a handgun sounds too close for comfort. Theodosia wanders into a neighboring lavender field and discovers their host Reginald Doyle bleeding to death. Hours later, a fire rips through the Doyle’s plantation house. A shooting and a fire feel way too coincidental, so Theodosia launches an investigation. Fingers are pointed, suspects abound, and old secrets are revealed even as Reginald’s daughter-in law is missing and presumed drowned. A wild, cross-country chase with more shots fired reveals the killer. Laura is positive that this is one of my her most action-packed mysteries yet.
Find Laura at www.laurachilds.com.