English Tea Murder - Leslie Meier
3 StarsI came into the Lucy Stone series late, about 14 or so books late. :-) I do like that with this particular book I don't feel lost, or compelled to thumb through an entire series for points of reference. Though I am the type of mystery reader who prefers to set a base of familiarity by reading the first book in series, I am confident in saying that if you have not read all of Meier's books in this line you will not have missed anything important.As this title implies, Lucy and three of her close friends have embarked on a guided tour of England sponsored by the local college in their hometown of Tinker's Cove, Maine. The motley crew of sojourners includes a trio of troubled underclassmen and their parents/guardians. Rounding out the group is Professor Temple, a middle-aged Anglophile who unfortunately contributes little to the tour. A severe allergy attack, realized too late by crew and tour mates, results in his mid-flight death.Nonetheless, the group sallies forth with a replacement flown in by the school, one Professor Quentin Rea. Lucy's familiarity with Quentin makes for some amusing yet awkward moments, but the distraction isn't enough to keep Lucy from wondering at the collective tense behaviors exhibited by everybody else on tour. The younger ones run emotions hot and cold - acting like carefree BFFs one moment then paranoid co-conspirators the next - while the parents hover close as though to protect their young. Typical helicopter parenting or protection from something more sinister, Lucy can't decide, but her reporter's instinct remain sharp throughout the story as secrets about the late Professor Temple are revealed.English Tea Murder is a layered story that exposes a number of "a-ha" moments throughout the course of Lucy's adventures. Meier's style is relaxed and allows for quick reading - I finished this in two days - though the scope of the story and the size of the cast doesn't leave much room for character development. Again, as this is a book late in a series, I should expect to become more familiar with Lucy and company in earlier installments. English Tea Murder provided enough enjoyment to encourage me to look into more books by the author.ARC received by Kensington Books for review