I read the first Seaside Cafe Mystery because I was asked to review Live and Let Chai since Bree Baker is from Ohio. Now, I'm totally hooked on these books about Everly Swan who returns home to Charm, North Carolina in the Outer Banks, and opens a tea shop and cafe. No Good Tea Goes Unpunished puts Everly right back in the middle of a murder investigation, although she's not a suspect this time.
Everly is having the time of her life, catering a wedding reception on the beach behind her house. Judy, a school friend, marries a wealthy entrepreneur, Craig Miller, and everyone seems to enjoy the fun and food at the beach reception. Immediately after the couple cuts the cake, though, Craig takes a phone call and disappears. Everly and her best friend, Amelia, are the ones who spot his body floating in the water, and try to resuscitate him. That's before they find blood on their hands and clothes, and realize Craig was stabbed to death. And, when Judy comes on the scene, and starts screaming, she's carrying the bloody cake knife.
It's been four months since the last murder on Charm, but Detective Grady Hays did not have to interview two hundred wedding guests during his last investigation. Naturally, he wants to interview the new Mrs. Miller, especially after a woman arrived in a taxi, claiming she was the love of Craig's life, and had arrived late to try to stop the wedding. Everly is convinced Judy was in love with Craig, and despite Grady's disapproval, she throws herself into interviews, talking to anyone who might show up at the tea shop, including a New York Times reporter.
Another attack, and two break-ins, including one at Everly's house, are not enough to stop her from asking questions. She might be terrified, and Grady's convinced she's a target, but Everly believes in truth and justice. She doesn't believe Craig's killer deserves to spend one more day free. And, she isn't going to let some crazed killer threaten her life and livelihood.
The best cozy mysteries introduce readers to characters who come alive on the page. Everly Swan, with her family backstory on Charm, her great-aunts who raised her, her escape from the island, and her return, is such a character. I appreciate Everly's new-found independence, her strength and determination. She loves Charm, its wild ponies, even a seagull. Her great-aunts are charming. They add some of the humor to the book, but they also add a great deal of love. And, I enjoy Grady Hays, a detective with his own fascinating backstory.
The best cozy mysteries are about family, community, and love. That community might be shaken up by a murder, but people come together to find the truth. Bree Baker has created one of those communities. No Good Tea Goes Unpunished, the second in the series, allows readers to settle into Everly Swan's life in Charm.
Bree Baker's website is www.breebaker.com
No Good Tea Goes Unpunished by Bree Baker. Sourcebooks, 2019. ISBN 9781492664789 (paperback), 352p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.