Death by Tea is the second in the Bookstore Café Mystery series. Krissy Hancock and her best friend Vicki Patterson own the combination coffee shop/bookstore named Death by Coffee after a mystery novel penned by Krissy's father James Hancock in the small town of Pine Hills.
Local busybody and gossip Rita Jablonski decides to hold the book club's annual competition against rival town Cherry Valley at Death by Coffee, and to Krissy's dismay they are reading Murder in Lovetown, one of her fathers less popular mystery novels. She shouldn't have been surprised since Rita has an unhealthy obsession with "Jim" Hancock even going so far as to keep a life size cardboard cutout of the author in her bedroom. Determined not to be creeped out when Rita brings the life size image into the Café, Krissy resolves to go back in the middle of the night and remove the cutout. She manages to complete her clandestine mission without getting caught but when the suave and debonair Brit, David Smith is found bludgeoned in the Café, Krissy becomes the immediate suspect. Nosy neighbor Eleanor Winthrow had nothing to do during the night but spy out the window and has reported to the police that Krissy was sneaking around all dressed in black.
In an effort to clear her name and to beat her nemesis Office John Buchannan at solving the crime, Krissy sets out to investigate. Her abrupt questioning of suspects ruffles many feathers including those of sometimes love interest Office Paul Dalton and his mother Chief of Police Patricia.
I had problems with Krissy in the first of the series "Death by Coffee" and was really hoping that I would like her a little better in this edition. Unfortunately I did not and I almost feel as though I'm writing a repeat review. Krissy still makes no effort to make friends among the local townspeople in fact she hardly interacts with anyone in the town except for her two employees, Lena Allison and Mike Green. For two supposed best friends Krissy and Vicki have very little interaction, neither taking much interest in the personal lives of the others. A perfect example was when Krissy was feeling down and she needed to talk to someone she couldn't think who to call - wouldn't you call your bestie?
This book lacked relationship interaction between Krissy and Paul, who was avoiding her supposedly due to the investigation, but most likely because she annoys him too. Other than being harassed and stalked by Office John Buchannan on a personal level there is no mention of police involvement in solving the murder. There were a few brief mentions of Misfit and Trouble, the two cats but even they take a back seat, and their antics were part of what had me giving this series another chance.
Again, while I wouldn't highly recommend this series, I would not dissuade others from giving it a try. I would suggest reading the series in order just to garner knowledge of the character backgrounds. I won't be going out to purchase the third, "Death by Pumpkin Spice" but will certainly give it a try should I receive a copy from a friend.
I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley via Kensington Publishing. While not required to write a review I am more than happy to offer my honest opinion.