Review: In Cold Chamomile by Joy Avon

cover174045-medium Tea party organizer Callie Aspen learns that Cupid’s arrows can be deadly when a Valentine’s Day soiree ends in murder.

Callie Aspen can’t think of a more appropriate place to spend Valentine’s Day than her adopted hometown of Heart’s Harbor, Maine. When she’s not helping out at Book Tea, her great-aunt Iphy’s vintage tearoom, Callie’s adorning Haywood Hall with hearts and roses for the big Valentine’s event, where townspeople will fall in love with sweet treats, heartwarming music, and delightful books. But tension is brewing: The librarian argues with the expert who is on hand to appraise precious volumes. And Iphy is shocked to recognize the baritone who’s slated to sing at the event as an old acquaintance–one she’d hoped she’d never meet again. And then, when a dead body is discovered, the stirring spoon of suspicion points at the many people who had reasons to want the victim dead.

When Iphy’s old acquaintance draws the attention of Deputy Ace Falk, Callie finds herself in a spot. Ace, as usual, doesn’t want Callie involved, but how can she ignore Iphy’s anguish over the fate of a man she cares for more than she will admit? Bringing the killer to justice may endanger Callie’s budding relationship with Ace–and, quite possibly, her own life.

Callie and the Book Tea crew may think they have this case in the bag, but un-kettling truths are yet to be decanted. 

I randomly requested the first book in this series, In Peppermint Peril, from Netgalley back in 2018. I immediately fell in love with the series.  The Book Tea coffee shop is a place I’d frequent if it were in my area and I love the characters with a fierce passion.  So, I was excited to get into this latest installment.

While I really enjoyed the story – there were a few twists I hadn’t seen coming – the characters were all off their games.  Callie, who is usually pretty self-assured is second guessing everything.  Iphy, who is always a solid bastion of dependability and propriety, is nowhere near any of that.  Deputy Falk, too, is avoiding Callie and acting like a stranger.  It made for an awkward story in an otherwise solid series.

That said, I still enjoyed In Cold Chamomile quite a lot.  There were several suspects and I was kept guessing as to who was the actual culprit.  I love the setting of Haywood Hall, too, because it’s like a mini-city all of its own.  I’m hoping that Callie and Ace are able to resolve whatever is going on between them in the next book because I think they’re a great pair.  Even when she’s annoying him by sleuthing when he’s asked her not, they have incredible chemistry.  Despite the issues I had with the characters not being themselves, this was still a highly enjoyable cozy mystery.

4/5

*Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for a fair review.

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