Tempest in the Tea Room
by Libi Astaire
There’s trouble afoot in Regency London’s Jewish community, and no one to stop the crimes—until wealthy-widower-turned-sleuth Mr. Ezra Melamed teams up with an unlikely pair: General Well’ngone and the Earl of Gravel Lane, the leaders of a gang of young Jewish pickpockets.
In this first volume of the Jewish Regency Mystery Series, a young Jewish physician is accused of poisoning his wealthy patient, Lady Marblehead, as well as stealing a priceless pearl bracelet from her jewelry box. After more outbreaks of the mysterious ailment occur in the city, an increasingly hysterical Jewish community turns to Mr. Melamed to investigate the case—who in turn enlists the aid of General Well’ngone and the Earl of Gravel Lane to find the real culprit.
(Word count 52,000; ebook $3.99 USD; print $9.99 USD)
Reviews of Tempest in the Tea Room
“The Regency detective fiction of author Libi Astaire is great fun. Set in London during the Napoleonic Wars, Astaire creates the Jewish community, observant, aware of their precarious status in Great Britain, and totally in sync with the fashions, manners and mores of the Regency period. [They] … are for anyone who loves Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, or who enjoys cleverly plotted mysteries dressed in period costumes.” — Andrea Kempf, Kansas City Jewish Chronicle
“Oh for the days of yore when a mystery was challenging, sophisticated, and literary; when echoes of history resounded as the pages quietly rustled. Well, rejoice, mystery lovers, this young adult to adult detective tale, British to the bone, is redolent of Jane and her drawing room, Sherlock and his irregulars, Agatha and her sleuths, Oliver and his orphans, Napoleon and his armies, and maybe a touch of blood libel for good measure. … Ages 12 and up will love this one.” — Michal Hoschander Malen, Jewish Book Council
“I was intrigued by the setting for this cozy mystery novella, in that the author combines the traditions of the Jewish Community with the attitudes and ignorance-based prejudices towards them in Regency times. The main character, a delightful, well-meaning young lady called Rebecca Lyon, recounts events in a novel-style reminiscent of Jane Austen. She also tends to say the wrong thing at the wrong time, but we are left in no doubt that her heart is in the right place.
“The novel opens with a genteel tea party attended by some larger than life characters, including the revered neighbourhood matchmaker, who may have been a caricature but strikes just the right note of superiority and wisdom.
“These ladies are set on making life better for their less affluent new neighbours, a young doctor and his sister, but things start to go horribly wrong when some of his patients begin to fall mysteriously ill.
“We are also taken into the cruel London underworld, where life is hard and cheap, orphans die and the elderly without resources are left to fend for themselves. There is the Fagin-style and deliciously named ‘Earl of Gravel Lane’, who runs a gang of criminal orphans, some of whom start to die but he proves his worth in finding out if their deaths are accident or design.
“A mysterious illness visits the neighbourhood, and the gallant young doctor is no longer the hero but may be the cause, then there is Lady Marblehead’s missing bracelet, a lady who could give Miss Faversham a run for her money! Clues abound, conclusions and judgments turn out wrong and take the characters down the wrong path.
“An enjoyable read with a satisfying ending. The author’s website gives details of other Ezra Melamed Mysteries, which I shall certainly look out for.” — Anita Davidson, Historical Novel Review