Shadow of a Spout, by Amanda Cooper

April 10, 2015 Book Reviews 2 ★★★½

Shadow of a Spout, by Amanda CooperShadow of a Spout by Amanda Cooper
Series: Teapot Collector Mystery #2
Published by Berkley on April 7th 2015
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: the author
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Also in this series: Tempest in a Teapot
Also by this author: Tempest in a Teapot

Avid teapot collector Rose Freemont takes a break from her Victorian tea house only to find a new mystery brewing elsewhere...

Leaving her home in Gracious Grove behind her, Rose is off to the annual convention of the International Teapot Collector’s Society. Her granddaughter Sophie is minding the tea house while she’s away. Rose is eager for tough cookie Zunia Pettigrew to appraise a prized antique teapot she believes may be a holy water vessel from China.

But when Zunia declares the pot a fake, Rose is really steamed. After Zunia’s found dead beside Rose’s dinged-in teapot, Sophie must rush to her grandmother’s aid and find the real killer—before Rose is steeped in any more trouble…

I received a review copy of this book from the author.

Review

Amanda Cooper’s second Teapot Collectors mystery lives up to the promise of the first. It’s a light, entertaining cozy with engaging characters and a tasty blend of warmth and mystery.

This time around, the action takes place not in Gracious Grove but in a town about an hour away. It’s unusual for a cozy series to leave home so early in the series, but it works, in part because so many of the recurring characters in the series are teapot collectors and thus attend the convention, and in part because the geographic closeness of the locations means that the culture is pretty similar (i.e., small-town New York state.) The majority of the action takes place in the inn where the convention is being held – not that different from the tea-shop setting of the first book.

What’s more unusual is that the main character, skilled chef and amateur detective Sophie Taylor, doesn’t show up at the inn until page 68 – after the murder and after the police have started investigating. We do see her before that, but she’s not on-site, so she isn’t observing events and people prior to the murder. Usually, cozy mystery heroines are on the spot, aware of the people and relationships involved. Again, the departure from the usual formula works, because Sophie’s grandmother Rose serves as the main secondary POV character and isn’t averse to a bit of investigating herself, even after Sophie arrives on the scene.  And Rose and her friend Laverne are able to fill Sophie in on most of what happened before her arrival.

As in the first book (Tempest in a Teapot), Sophie makes an intelligent and sympathetic heroine. She takes a more active role in the investigation this time – despite being warned off by her godmother Laverne’s nephew, a policeman assigned to the case. Heroines ignoring police advice usually irk me, but I buy it here because Sophie is trying to clear her grandmother’s name (although it doesn’t seem to me that the police are really assuming Rose’s guilt, just questioning her thoroughly – as they do in real life.) Sophie’s loyalty to and love for her grandmother is one of my favorite things about this series, and it’s totally believable that she would get involved to protect Rose.

I also enjoyed the mystery itself. There are the obligatory four or five suspects, each with opportunity and possible motives – and those motives were believable given the personalities involved. I did guess the truth about one suspect, and suspected the actual murderer more than some of the others, but I wasn’t sure until pretty far into the book.

The strength of this series is in its characters, particularly some of the secondary ones. Thelma, for instance – Cooper is great at getting inside that rather irritating woman’s head and showing her muddled, unhappy, blame-everything-on-someone-else thinking. Thelma isn’t exactly a likable character, but she’s understandable and believable because Cooper lets us see her thoughts and feelings.  We don’t see inside Cissy’s or Dana’s heads, but Sophie’s thoughts about and reactions to her friends give us a pretty good sense of what they are like as people. And young Josh is a delight.

I did miss the developing relationship between Jason and Sophie in this book; he’s in the background, but they only really have one scene together. I hope we’ll see more of their relationship in book three.

You could certainly read Shadow of a Spout without reading Tempest in a Teapot (review), but I would advise reading them in order. Sophie develops as a character in the first book (less so here) and I appreciated coming into this book already having a sense of the various personalities involved. But if you enjoy small-town cozy mysteries (and tea!), I recommend giving the series a try. Just be sure you have a nice pot of tea to enjoy them with!

three-half-stars

About Amanda Cooper

Amanda Cooper and Victoria Hamilton are the cozy-mystery pseudonyms of Donna Lee Simpson, who also writes romance under her own name. Simpson is the author of over 20 mysteries and romances, and loves cats and tea, cooking and vintage cookware, cross-stitching and watercolor painting, karaoke and long walks. She lives in Canada. (adapted from Goodreads biography)

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Cruisin' Thru the Cozies 2015

2 Responses to “Shadow of a Spout, by Amanda Cooper”

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Sophie shows up before page 68, in scenes showing her running the tearoom back in Gracious Grove, and going out for the evening with her not-quite-boyfriend. But as I said, Rose is really like a second “investigator” and she’s most definitely on the spot, son once Sophie gets there, she gets up to speed pretty quickly.