Saturday, January 29, 2011

Review: Oolong Dead, by Laura Childs (2010)

Oolong Dead by Laura Childs:

Delaine slid into a chair across from Theodosia, then reached out and grabbed one of Theodosia's hands. "I've been so worried, Theo! There we were, having a perfectly lovely high-society event. And you go and stumble upon that poor woman's dead body!"

Synopsis: While riding steeplechase, Theodosia Browning is thrown from a horse and lands next to the murdered body of her ex-boyfriend's sister. And then my suspension of disbelief falls off its tightrope and breaks its dear Aunt Fanny.

Next I suppose you'll tell me the police ask her to investi--

Oh. My. Stars.

There are good things and there are less good things about this book. I think it's just going to be easiest if I revert to a list-style entry and then tally everything up at the end.


  • I love these characters. Like, a lot. I love the tension between them, the bickering, the bantering, the deep currents of friendship and workship and crazy between them all.
  • I admit it. Delaine's growing on me. I no longer want the next book to involve finding her body in a swamp.
  • Jory Davis, Theodosia's stylish ex with a streak of tool a mile wide IS BACK. Parker, you're on notice, buddy. On the plus side, Drayton's still available and looking.
  • Jory's new flame, Beth Ann? Is a BRILLIANT character. She's just tragically failtastic. I so want her to stick around and be terrible to Theodosia. I know that makes me a bad person but look:
    Beth Ann held out a champagne flute and waggled it to no one in particular. "Beth Ann would like another drink. Beth Ann is thirsty."

    "Beth Ann's from New York," said Jory, as if that explained everything.
    I KNOW. \m/ She is so terrible she whips right back round the other side to AWESOME. Book #11 in the series hopefully involves some type of cage match. (Fingers crossed!)
  • In all seriousness, I really, really enjoy Childs' writing style. It is somehow both deeply, incredibly detailed while also being flowing and smooth and fast, and this makes even a bad plot very enjoyable.


  • This is a bad plot. It's convoluted and there's some drag in the middle, and Theo veers towards Mary Suedom. The the classic two-men-fight-over-heroine schtick veers Theo dangerously toward Mary Sue territory. However, yet more bonus points for the hilariously tragic Beth Ann. She sort of stole the book for me.
  • Look, in what world is the lead homicide investigator assigned to the case going to sit one of the suspects down and go um hey, 'sup? So, the victim's family want me to file murder charges against you, so here's what I wanchu ta do: go interview the victim's family and see what you can find out.
  • Is it the same world where the victim's sister (the victim HATED Theo, just as an aside) demands she help find the killer as well?
  • There's a random jet-ski scene where Theo assaults someone and I did not feel it was justified.
  • I have noticed a strong increase in the number of brand names mentioned in the last few books. It's not that someone is carjacked, it's that they're ripped from their CADILLAC ESCALADE. It's not that the victim liked designer jewelry, it's exactly what brands she liked. And in the book before this there's a scene where Theo's getting ready to go out that is so branded that I think I can recreate her look from here. I dunno. It feels cheesy somehow.
  • The very very end, very last page? Veered even closer toward Mary Sue territory. I will be watching this series very closely for that from now on.

Overall: Eh. B-minus. A tea-shop mystery with big plot holes is still a tea-shop mystery.

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