A Jane Austen Tea Society Mystery: Book 3
Publication Date: December 12, 2023
Murder is on the menu and Phaedra Brighton is called on to serve up justice in the latest Jane Austen Tea Society Mystery.
While Phaedra Brighton might not have a Mr. Darcy (yet), she’s quite content with her loving family and loyal cat. Phaedra’s sister Hannah is the Jane to her Elizabeth, and Phaedra is ecstatic that Hannah has decided to move home for her next adventure—opening a business.
All of Laurel Springs is out in full force to celebrate the grand unveiling of Hannah’s new patisserie, Tout de Sweet, including local celebrity Rachel Brandon. Hannah is a master of her craft, with confections so divine, one bite will make you think you’ve died and gone to heaven.
Of course, you never want that to happen literally.
When one of Hannah’s famous dark chocolate cupcakes sends Rachel’s assistant to the hospital with poisoning, Hannah begs for Phaedra’s help to save her reputation and budding business. But Phaedra has more questions than answers: Who was the cupcake actually meant for? And how far is the culprit willing to go to take their target off the menu—permanently?
When English Professor Phaedra Brighton’s sister, Hannah, opens her very own patisserie, Tout de Sweet, in the little town of Laurel Springs, everyone is excited.
The patisserie’s grand opening celebration is a huge success until it’s cut short when Anna Steele, assistant to the glamorous Rachel Brandon, takes a bite of a dark chocolate cupcake and collapses, later dying. Was Anna Steele the intended target of the poison-wielding murderer, or could it have been Phaedra herself or her father who’d initially been served the cupcake before it was snatched away?
Suspects and motives are few, but homicide detective Matteo Morelli isn’t deterred even though he must regularly remind Phaedra he is the one doing the investigating—not her. It’s just all so puzzling, and even though the small town’s iconic Christmas traditions continue, Phaedra and her Society friends, Lucy Liang and Marisol Dubois, still seek to uncover clues and identify the intended victim. When other murderous attempts are made, it’s still not clear who the actual intended target is, and the mystery continues to deepen. With new suspects and motives swirling in and out of possibility, Phaedra is kept busy, which proves helpful by keeping her from missing Mark Selden, a very special Shakespearean professor, too terribly much while he’s away in England.
Katie Oliver does a masterful job of skillfully entwining the names of Jane Austen characters and their relationships while penning a clever and thoroughly mystifying mystery in Cyanide and Sensibility. Every sense is ignited with deliciously placed food descriptions. The cold is keenly felt with perfectly frigid descriptions of the bitter winter accompanied by the warmth of family, close friends, and that special Shakespearean person, not to mention the sparkling lights of Christmas. Laurel Springs and its residents are vividly brought to life in a story that is well-written and thoroughly enjoyed.
Along with a clever mystery that deepens and lingers until the very satisfying end, Cyanide and Sensibility treats the reader to far more with its Christmas cheer, charming setting, and endearing characters.
Katie Oliver is known internationally as a writer of Jane Austen rom-coms with a hint of mystery. In the US and the UK, she is the bestselling author of the Dating Mr. Darcy and Marrying Mr. Darcy series.