Cotswolds tearoom owner Gemma Rose is excited to join the May Day celebrations in Oxford...until the beautiful spring morning ends in murder. Now, she's embroiled in a deadly mystery - with four nosy old ladies determined to help in the sleuthing! Before she knows it, Gemma finds herself stalking a Russian "princess" and keeping up with the Old Biddies in Krav Maga class, while still trying to serve delicious cakes and buttery scones at her quaint English tearoom. And that's just the start of her worries: there's her little tabby cat, Muesli, who is causing havoc at the local nursing home...and what should she do with the creepy plants that her mother keeps buying for her new cottage? But the mystery that's really bothering Gemma is her boyfriend's odd behavior. Devlin O'Connor has always been enigmatic, but, recently, the handsome CID detective has been strangely distant and evasive. Could he be lying to her? But why?
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Gemma Rose, owner and proprietor of the Oxford Tea Room, lets her best friend, Cassie, talk her into joining Cassie for Oxford's May Day celebrations in Muffins and Mourning Tea by HY Hanna. This celebration involves meeting at 5 am at the Great Tower to hear the Magdalen College Choir sing to welcome in the spring. With all the jostling by the crowd, Gemma gets separated from Cassie and ends up on the bridge that spans the Thames. Then, with the conclusion to the song, someone splashes into the river, causing everyone to smile over the student hijinks. But when the young man fails to surface, smiles turn to expressions of concern and soon panic as his dead body is brought up from the river. He must have broken his neck in the shallow river.
At least, this is what everyone thinks must be the case until the medical examiner looks over the body. Charlie Foxton has been stabbed with a kitchen skewer. Even more upsetting to Gemma is the fact that the skewer belongs to her chief baker's best friend, Miriam Hopkins, who served as Charlie's scout in Oxford. For the uninitiated (which means most of the world), an Oxford scout takes care of the students living in the dorms, even cleaning up their rooms and vacuuming each week. Sometimes a scout will actually do laundry for her or his students! With Miriam as both Charlie's scout and the owner of the knife, she looks guilty.
So Dora, Gemma's baker, begs Gemma to find the truth in order to free Miriam of suspicion. The four crazy old ladies who love to snoop and whom Gemma privately calls "The Old Biddies," eagerly assume the role of detective once again. They drag Gemma to snoop on the room of Damien Heath, Charlie's roommate, in a potentially disastrous trip to his college. Further, they enlist Gemma in a class in Krav Maga in which these old ladies send Gemma to the emergency room. The four of them and Gemma develop their own list of potential suspects. And in addition, Gemma notices her boyfriend, Devlin, the local Detective Inspector, keeping more and more secrets from her, making her wonder what is happening with her relationship and whether Devlin might be cheating on her. That just adds to Gemma's personal distress.
This book is another fun, enjoyable book in the delightful Oxford Tea Room series. I especially enjoyed that this book had some great scenes with the Old Biddies. They really come to life in this book and made me laugh. And Gemma's mom keeps giving her more exotic plants for her house. Muesli, the cat, even gets her own fun scene. It was fun to spend time with Gemma in Oxford again. The plot moved swiftly and kept me drawn to it. There were a number of Russians involved in the case, a nice addition of another culture to the book.
I liked Pearl Hewitt's performance as narrator of the book. Her gentle voice sounds ideal as belonging to Gemma. Further, she makes the book enjoyable and seem so real.
Muffins and Mourning Tea is a great addition to the Oxford Tea Room series. I found myself worrying with Gemma about her love life and following her concerns about the case. I hope that the next book comes out on audio soon! I give this book five stars!
5+/5 Slices of Banoffee Pie…Murderously Delicious!
What a treat, not only another delicious recipe to satisfy this Anglophile’s appetite, but also I couldn’t put down this fifth book! Only H.Y. Hanna would take us to Oxford’s May Day celebration opening up at an ungodly morning hour and giving us…murder! Always well-written we get a clear picture of Oxford through descriptions of its pathways, bridges, towers, and college gardens along with everyone’s various early morning fashions. My favorite character Gemma heads out to meet BFF Cassie to enjoy the Magdalen Choir greeting the sunrise reminiscent of their college days. Everyone, including Gemma, felt goosebumps at the final blend of joyous voices and then a commotion, shouting, someone heaved over the edge, and the splashing of water. The crowd eagerly set to applaud another Oxford tradition of jumping off the bridge and into the river below, but the Harris tweed clad boy Gemma had stood next to on the bridge floated silently, not moving, face down in the cold river…this isn’t part of the tradition! But a clever murder is always part of H.Y. Hanna’s Oxford Tearoom Mystery!
I’m always engaged with Hanna’s murder mystery, gathering clues, navigating twists and turns, and trying to uncover the killer before another “Gemma’s in peril” ending. My inner “Sherlock” is always delightfully challenged, but I really enjoy the well-developed characters and all their interactions. Again CID detective and boyfriend Devlin O’Conner heads the investigation, and although very good at his job, it’s effecting the budding romance between him and Gemma. Hanna has woven this drama throughout the series along with the nosy “Old Biddies” interfering with their own investigation, Muesli’s kitty behaviors causing problems, Gemma’s mother inserting herself, and BFF Cassie always there in a pinch. I love the whole world of tea and scones, friends and family, and murder and mayhem! And don’t forget sticky toffee, sliced bananas, and fresh whipped cream…yes, Banoffee Pie!
Do you want a treat? Check out the audio version with the brilliant talent of Pearl Hewitt enhancing this engaging story!
Pearl Hewitt’s artistry hits the mark again portraying a wide variety of British accents and dialects, and mesmerizing me as I listen to every delightful character’s tone, personality, and emotion greatly enriching an already engaging H.Y. Hanna story…What? Three hours have passed? I didn’t even realize as I was plugged into my phone going about my chores…Ok, I really didn’t do the chores. During the gossipy moment at the tearoom, Pearl does an extraordinary job with the various tourists offering information about the mystery from Americans to Australians to a Scot or two, and she even provided an excellent Slavic accent. All of this is why audiobooks are so unique. I can read the story myself, but the narrator, especially Pearl Hewitt, screams, yawns, whispers, slows her tone for dramatic effect, and when “Devlin sighed” you hear him sigh, when “Dora snorted” you hear her snort, and when Meusli is upset you hear the “meorrws!”! I love it! Pearl Hewitt is absolutely perfect for H.Y. Hanna’s Oxford story.
Audio Book Only "Disclosure: A review copy of this book was sent to me by the author. All of the above opinions are my own.”