Attending an engagement party at the Lady Goodwood Inn should be a relaxing event for tea-shop proprietor Theodosia Browning. But then the fiancé's body ends up on the greenhouse roof, and an antique wedding ring goes missing in the first in a series of thefts staged by a cunning cat burglar.

SHADES OF EARL GRAY abounds with quaint details about tea, antiques and clothing. Unfortunately, these details take up space that would have been better devoted to plotting and character development. The characters are paper-thin, and those new to the series won't get a handle on the vast number of secondary characters who wander onstage and off, seemingly with no purpose. The story is weak and uninteresting. All in all, not worth the effort. (Jan., 256 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kim Colley