English Tea Murder

Leslie Meier
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Jul 22, 2020

"In for a penny, in for a pound."

I've read a variety of mystery novels over the years, but never a cozy mystery. Which is strange because I generally prefer lighter, brighter stories to grim and gritty, and I'm not big on gore. And I love puns, and a lot of cozy mysteries have punny titles. I decided to try my first cozy mystery and chose English Tea Murder by Leslie Meier at random. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting from the genre (no punny title, for one thing) but to cut to the big reveal, I liked it.

Having never read a cozy mystery, especially one by Leslie Meier, here's what surprised me (trying to avoid spoilers). There is, of course, a murder at the beginning of the novel, but it's so subtly pulled off, no one, including the amateur sleuth protagonist, suspects it's murder for quite a while. The first half of the novel is almost entirely a low-key story of Americans visiting London, complaining about the food, the hotel, and tours. Also a lot of bickering. I started to forget it was a mystery. The second half becomes more like what I would expect from a mystery novel. But at the very end it takes what I thought was a pretty dark turn. Darker than what I expected from a cozy mystery.

Because the murder mystery aspect of the story is so low-key at the beginning, it took me a while to get into it, reading it in patches here and there. The characters complaining about every English didn't help. I've been to London, I've lived in England, and I didn't find it nearly as complain-worthy as the Americans in this story. If you had a bad experience in England, Leslie Meiers, I'm sorry. But as I got closer to the halfway point, I found myself invested in the characters, their idiosyncrasies, their relationships, and the secrets they were hiding. When the first death became more clearly a murder mystery, I was hooked and didn't want to stop reading, even if it only became an edge-of-your-seat mystery at the very end.

All in all, I liked that it was as much slice-of-life as it was murder mystery. Even if it took me a while to get into it, in retrospect, I liked the easy-going pacing. Yes, I liked the coziness of it. But while I liked it, I'm not sure I'd read other books in this series. I'm definitely going to read more cozy mysteries, though.

Reviewed by Josh N.
See their Lists and Reviews in our Catalog!