Tempest in the Tea Leaves (Fortune Teller Mystery - Book 1) by Kari Lee Townsend
Publication Date: August 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: Paperback, 304pp
(Received for an honest review from the author)
Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound
Kari Lee Townsend on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter
Excerpt from Tempest in the Tea Leaves
In the fortune telling business there are a lot of pretenders, but Sunshine Meadows is the real deal - and her predictions can be lethally accurate...
Leaving the Big Apple for the quaint town of Divinity, New York, Sunny is determined to make it on her own as a psychic. With an ancient Victorian house as her place of business, Sunny uses various psychic methods to aid the town's residents. But when she uses tea leaves to give a reading for a frazzled librarian, what she finds at the bottom of the cup is anything but helpful.
Sunny informs the police of her deadly vision, but her warning is too late. and with hard-nosed, ruggedly handsome Detective Mitch Stone denying her abilities and naming her prime suspect, the situation is dire. Now Sunny has to use her visions to clear her name, before the killer can put an end to the psychic's future.
Kari Lee Townsend jumps on the supernatural bandwagon with her debut cozy mystery, Tempest in the Tea Leaves. Townsend's quirky, psychic heroine, Sunny Meadows will have readers on the edge of their seats with her adventures in the paranormal. Townsend has a knack for creating interesting characters that find themselves in some very sticky situations. Cozy and romance fans alike will all find something to tantalize them in this great end of summer whodunit.
Sunny Meadows has had enough of the big city life. Moving from New York City to Divinity affords Sunny a new lease on life. She gets away from her privileged life with parents who just don't understand her and ends up pursuing her psychic gift. She's determined to make it as a psychic, with her own shop in an aging Victorian manner, complete with it's own mystical cat named Morty. But when her first reading goes a bit awry, Sunny finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery. The town librarian was frantic for a reading, but she wasn't expecting her tea leaves to predict her death. When Sunny alerts the police they are skeptical until the librarian turns up dead. Now Sunny must work closely with a detective that doesn't believe in her abilities and considers her the prime suspect in the crime.
Kari Lee Townsend makes a strong effort with her first cozy mystery, Tempest in the Tea Leaves, the beginning of her Fortune Teller mystery series. Cozy fans are always looking for the next best thing and lately there have been several writers who have taken a supernatural or paranormal twist and added it to the whodunit. Some have had great success with it, while others have seemed to flounder a bit. I think Kari's book falls in the first group. This cozy is definitely on my list of good reads.
I liked the supernatural bent of the book and found a little more believable than some. When I read a cozy I always find myself asking if the scenario's are plausible... could this happen in the real world? And though there are skeptics about psychic abilities and the art of fortune telling, I think there are enough believers and those interested in magical elements to make this one really work. It's apparent that Townsend has done a good deal of research and put a lot of effort into making the supernatural element of the book come together and I think readers will appreciate that and want to know more about psychic abilities. I felt like I learned a bit about such things just by reading the book.
The mystery aspect of the book was well written and very interesting. I thought Townsend did a good job of drawing out the conclusion and keeping the reader guessing throughout the novel. There were some unexpected twists and turns that had me going in circles trying to figure out the clues. I'm a little hard to stump when it comes to cozies, and this one was certainly not predictable. I was a little skeptical about a couple of things in the book, notably the fact that a person of interest in a murder would be asked to help solve it, psychic abilities or no, but it worked with the overall plot enough that I was able to overlook that with ease.
I think Townsend's real strength was shown in her character development. Her characters were not only complex and three dimensional, but also fun and quirky. The town of Divinity is certainly an interesting place. Townsend's use of humor to diffuse the seriousness of the storyline was done excellently. I think using characters that readers can identify with, but also become engaged in is key in a good cozy.
Sunny is anything but your typical socialite. She may have snooty parents and a trust fund in her background, but when she comes to Divinity she gets a whole new start, at the bottom of the ladder. She has to work her way up in more ways than one and I think readers will just love her. Her name says it all! Sunny is fun, positive and upbeat. Her counterpart Mitch on the other hand is quite her opposite. He's a hard-nosed detective, somewhat on the grumpy side, has some serious trust issues and a penchant for jumping to conclusions. But together they really work. The law of opposites attracting I suppose.
I really enjoyed this one and I think my cozy readers will as well. The paranormal element is interesting and the mystery aspect of the book is believable and hard to figure out. I recommend it cozy readers and there is even a hint of romance between Mitch and Sunny that will appeal to my romance fans. Take a look at my sidebar for a chance to win a copy of Kari's book, Tempest in the Tea Leaves. It's a great start to a new series, that I look forward to reading more of.
Tempest in the Tea Leaves is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Here's a little more about Kari... in her own words:
Well what can I say about me? I live in Central NY with my very understanding husband, my three busy boys, and my oh-so-dramatic daughter, who keep me grounded and make everything I do worthwhile ... not to mention provide me with loads of material for my books :-) I am a long time lover of reading and writing, with a Masters in English Education. I have been both a winner and finalist in several online writing contests, including the Amazon Breakout Novel Contest, as well as being a freelance editor. I am also a member of several writing organizations and love attending writing conferences. These days you will find me at home with my children, doing what makes me happier than anything I've ever tried ... writing books! I write both teen and adult books: fun and exciting stories for any age set in small towns with mystical elements and quirky characters.