I will freely admit that I love her mystery books. The mysteries are nothing special. But that's not why you read the books. You read the books because you like the characters and you like whatever theme the book uses. In my case, I like her tea-based mysteries. No, the mysteries don't revolve around tea. Rather, the sleuth runs a tea shop. (Childs also does a series based around scrap-booking. No lie. There's also a new series built around a diner.)
In addition to the characters, Childs does a nice job on descriptions of the various places in which the story takes place. It makes for a pleasant read.
Where the book falters is on the quality of the mystery. I quite literally pegged the murderer at his/her very first appearance. In Childs' books, characters are placed into two categories:
1) Regular characters who putter around in their usual ways and are not suspects
2) Story-specific characters who are introduced solely to either be killed or be suspected of the murder
But there's a catch. What every mystery writer wants is for the murderer to be revealed at the end and have the reader be surprised, but not scammed. In other words, the writer doesn't want the reader to actually figure the mystery out, but wants it to be possible for them to do so.
To achieve this, Childs' murderer is the one character who is introduced but is never fleshed out. She wants the character to be there, but she takes pains to exclude them from becoming one of the suspects. And, once you realize that, the character sticks out like a sore thumb.
What she really needs to do is have a smooth continuum of characters. Instead, she has a bucket of suspects and a bucket of regulars and one sore thumb.
But, again, the mystery isn't really the draw here. And I absolutely adore the books.