Monday, November 12, 2018

In Peppermint Peril by Joy Avon

Joy Avon's debut mystery, In Peppermint Peril, is the first "A Tea and a Read Mystery". This one is set in the Christmas season, while the second one will take readers back to Heart's Harbor, Maine, for the Fourth of July celebration. Meet Callie Aspen and her Great Aunt Iphegeneia (Iphy).

Iphy owns the vintage tearoom Book Tea. She loves mysteries and puts clues on her pastries. When Callie, who is visiting for the Christmas holiday, is dispatched to Haywood Hall with a special cake, she's curious about Aunt Iphy's mystery with this one. But, neither mystery fan realize they'll be caught up in an actual murder mystery at Haywood Hall.

There's a lot of tension. Mr. Leadenby, the retired gardener, doesn't get along with Sheila, Callie's childhood friend. They're snipping at each other at the door. Dorothea Finster, the oldest resident in town at 93 is throwing the tea party at her beloved home. She's about to read her will, and she's invited family and the important people in town, while Iphy and Callie are catering the party.  Sheila has her own plans. She wants her daughter's boyfriend to propose to Amber during the party, and she puts a ring box in the center of the cake.

But, everything goes wrong during the party. The ring is missing; the young people are upset about the pushy engagement plans. Dorothea never gets to read her will after Amber finds a body in the conservatory. Callie, who loves Haywood Hall and her memories, believes she has to do something to  make sure the killer is caught, but she doesn't want to put anyone under suspicion of murder. "In true Agatha Christie style, the will reading had led to murder." And, Callie isn't willing to share information with Deputy Falk who seems too inexperienced to solve the case.

The setting of In Peppermint Peril has potential, but this first mystery is weak. It feels rushed, as if the author threw in everything she knows about cozy mysteries. While there are comments about Agatha Christie and Ellis Peters, it feels more like the game of Clue, with a character stabbed in the conservatory. All the characters are amateur sleuths, even the deputy, who relies too much on Callie for information after initial conflicts. Every character lies, and they all rush around trying to cover their tracks. Avon tries for the cozy hometown atmosphere, but she's trying too hard. Let's hope the next mystery in the series is warm and cozy with characters who have a little more depth.

In Peppermint Peril by Joy Avon. Crooked Lane Books, 2018. ISBN 9781683317937 (hardcover), 283p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Kay said...

I like the cheerful cover! Will keep this one in mind, but put it on the back burner for now. Wonder if this will be a series that's connected to holidays?

Lesa said...

I don't know, Kay. In fact, the blurb on the cover of the book (actual book) that I had about what the series is called is different from the note on Amazon & Barnes & Noble. Looks like things might have changed even after that.

Robin Coxon said...

Tis the season for peppermint to blossom everywhere even in our books. Thanks Lesa for including Pepperminth Peril on your blog. I've definitely added it to my list of want to reads.

SandyG265 said...

Thanks for the review. I think I’ll pass on this one for the time being since I already have too many books to read.

Netteanne said...

Sounds like one of those silly reads - and someday's one needs a silly read.

In our system, may put it on hold but too many other books to read.

Lesa said...

Robin, I much prefer peppermint in real life or in books more than the pumpkin that springs up everywhere right now. (sigh)

You're welcome, Sandy.

You're right, Netteanne. There's a time and place for silly or cozy reads.