It's hard to believe that this is already the TENTH of Laura Childs' Tea Shop mysteries. This "episode" begins with Theodosia filling in for a friend who is unable to ride in a steeplechase. Her horse balks at a jump because of a dead body lying beside it. The body turns out to belong to a local television anchor, who happened to be the sister of an ex-beau of Theo's, with whom she's recently had a public disagreement.
Luckily, Theodosia is well enough known by local law enforcement officials that she is not a suspect, but her friend/nemesis Detective Burt Tidwell asks her for her (informal) assistance, which of course she would have given anyway. When Jory, the victim's brother also asks Theo to look into the matter, she feels doubly justified. Although Theo seems to be a sensible woman, and vows not to walk into dangerous situations, she manages to do so anyway. Fortunately, she usually remembers to keep her cell phone handy.
It's wonderful to read about the day-to-day operations of her tea shoppe, and the glamorous affairs she often attends. But I am getting tired of her fancy duds getting ruined in every book!
Meredith Cole's first novel won the 2007 St. Martin’s Minotaur/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition, and it's easy to see why. Lydia McKenzie, a fine art photographer, is in the midst of her first gallery showing: a series of photographs based on a book about past murders that occurred in New York City. But the evening of the opening, a pair of detectives arrive to tell her that one of the models has been found dead, posed the same way as in Lydia's photo. Of course Lydia (whose day job is secretary of a PI agency) is upset by this, and as well as doing all she can to aid the police, she does a little digging on her own. When another, and then another of her friends/models is killed.
Cole's narrative is very matter-of-fact, which lessens the shock-value of the crimes to some extent, and perhaps helps the reader empathize with a young woman experiencing monstrous incidents in her life, and is shocked and stunned as she tries to make sense of them.