Laura Childs, The Nora Roberts of the Cozies - Dark Streets
There’s a new author I’ve discovered over the last year who just HAS to be as talented and prolific as Nora Roberts (or my very favorite, JD ROBB!) and that’s none other than Laura Childs!
Laura writes three mystery series – The Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club mysteries, and each is a gem in its own right! I first happened upon them when I was asked to review the 16th Tea Shop mystery – The Ming Tea Murders - I was hooked and immediately had to order the entire series from Ebay!
Then again, Laura’s no stranger to deadlines – she was a TV writer/producer for three multi-national ad agencies before launching her own advertising/PR firm. She credits suspense greats John Sandford, Mary Higgins Clark and Stephen King with piquing her interest in writing thrillers/mysteries. As a matter of fact, she’s just started writing thrillers under her own name, Gerry Schmitt! We’ll do more on Gerry at a future date!
In the meantime, let’s take a look at her series published under Laura Childs!
THE SCRAPBOOKING MYSTERIES
Set in New Orleans, this series follows the adventures of Carmela Bertrand, owner of Memory Mine, a scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter. There are a plethora of quirky characters which include Shamus Meechum, Carmela’s ex; her best pal Ava; detective Edgar Babcock to name a few. Not your ordinary cozy, either, as these books are full of chills and thrills and plenty of New Orleans Juju!
My pick of the series: FRILL KILL, Scrapbooking Mystery #5: With Halloween barely a week away, things are spookier than ever in New Orleans. A party at Juju Voodoo draws a fabulous throng, and Carmela's friend Ava has hired a sexy tarot card reader named Giovanni to work the crowd. What he doesn't foretell is that on her way home, Carmela will discover the body of a beautiful model behind a Dumpster--and be attacked herself!
The latest, PARCHMENT AND OLD LACE, fnds Carmela having dinner at Commander’s Palace with her beau, Detective Edgar Babcock. The food and the company are equally divine—with the exception of Isabelle Black stopping by to brag about her upcoming wedding. Resuming the romance with a walk in the evening air, the couple is interrupted once again—this time by a terrifying scream from inside the cemetery.
Having just seen Isabelle, Carmela and Edgar now find her lying across an above-ground tomb, strangled to death with a piece of vintage lace. Carmela would rather leave the investigating to Edgar, but she can’t say no to Isabelle’s sister Ellie, the tarot card reader at Juju Voodoo, when she asks her to help. As she untangles the enemies of Isabelle’s past, Carmela hopes she can draw out the killer before someone else gets cold feet.
Next up: THE CACKLEBERRY CLUB
In the small town of Kindred, three women launch the Cackleberry Club, where eggs are the specialty of the day. Not only do Suzanne, Toni andPetra whip up a good omelet, but they have also been known to whip a few murderer’s butts as amateur sleuths!
My pick of the series: EGGS IN A CASKET (Cackleberry Club #5)
When Suzanne and Toni deliver flowers to a local cemetery, they discover an open grave and the crumpled body of one of Kindred's most prominent citizens. There wasn't a funeral, there aren't any mourners--so it has to be murder!
TEA SHOP MYSTERIES
And now to what I consider Ms. Child’s crown jewel: The Tea Shop Mysteries! The protagonist is Theodosia Browning, who runs the Indigo Tea Shop in Charleston. She is a savvy entrepreneur, has a service dog named Earl Grey. As an amateur sleuth, she is intelligent, focused and doesn’t rely on shoddy police work or coincidences in order to solve crimes. A stellar cast of supporting characters include Tea master Drayton Conneley; baker Haley Parker; BFF Delaine Dish, who has "the personality disorder of the Mad Hatter;" Earl Grey, Theodosia’s rescue dog and Max Scofield as love interest. My one nitpick: I would hate to be Theodosia’s personal shopper. This girl ruins more dresses running after criminals than you’d think possible! Maybe she should consider wearing a suit of armor????
My pick of the series: THE SILVER NEEDLE MURDER, Tea Shop #9:
The Charleston Film Festival is under way, and Theodosia Browning and her staff of the Indigo Tea Shop have a busy week of catering jobs. First up is the opening night gala at the renovated Belvedere Theatre. But as tinseltown bigwigs mingle with local luminaries, famous director Jordan Cole is shot on his way to the podium, and the entire audience witnesses his death--larger than life and silhouetted against a white scrim. When two judges quit, festival organizer Timothy Neville asks Theodosia to step in. She reluctantly agrees--only to get pulled into an investigation that's as perilous as any big-screen thriller!
With an Honorable mention to AGONY OF THE LEAVES, Tea Shop #13
Theo discovers the body of her ex-boyfriend floating in an aquarium tank and sets out to find whodunit. The raft of possible suspects includes a flamboyant restauranteur, a shady lawyer, and an Aquarium board member. Watching Theo piece clues together is always fun – then watching herself get out of tight scrapes facing the killer is even better! The surprise ending does not disappoint!
Which brings us to the latest, released last month: DEVONSHIRE SCREAM, Tea Shop Mystery #17
Theodosia’s excited when she’s asked to cater a high-class trunk show at Heart’s Desire Jewelry. Excitement turns to terror when a gang of masked strangers crash the show and make off with the precious gems and jewels on display, leaving a dead body in their wake. The FBI thinks an international gang of jewel thieves is involved, but Theo disagrees. And when her dear friend Brooke, aunt of the victim and owner of Hearts’ Desire, asks for her help, she can’t refuse….
Theo’s investigative antics are always a sight to behold, and she’s at her best in this one! Once you read one, you will want to read…them…ALL!
This reader sincerely hopes Ms. Childs will be penning “thrillzies” for many years to come! Her books are too numerous to give complete lists here, but you can check them out on her website, www.laurachilds.com. And start one or more of her series today – you won’t regret it!
Columnist: Toni LoTempio
Born in New York City, T. C. LoTempio is the national bestselling author of Meow If It’s Murder, the first in the Nick and Nora Mystery series. She has been a staff reporter at the young adult magazine Susabella Passengers and Friends for more than a decade. When she isn’t reporting or writing novels, she and her cat Rocco fundraise for Nathan Fillion’s charity, Kids Need to Read. You can find out more about her and her books at www.tclotempio.com or at ROCCO’s blog, www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com