Friday, October 12, 2012

Scones and Bones, by Laura Childs

I drank my first cup of hot chocolate of the season and have attended at least one night of the Red River Revel--the large fall arts, music, and food festival on the Shreveport river front--so I guess autumn has officially arrived.  As usual, our cool weather has been rather elusive and has retreated a bit, leaving Indian Summer behind.  I'm all for displaying the oranges, yellows and browns of the season as a good faith sign that fall is here, however, and neighbors are following suit as jack-o-lanterns and other Halloween decorations appear on porches and lawns.

Berkley Prime Crime, 2011
295 pages
It seemed like an appropriate time to hunker down with a cozy mystery featuring hot tea and pirates, crossbones and jeering skulls.  Laura Childs' 2011 Scones & Bones, the 12th in her Tea Shop Mystery, focuses on events surrounding a mug allegedly made from the famous pirate Blackbeard's skull and accented with a 10 karat diamond.

While attending the grand opening of the Pirates and Plunder Show at the Charleston Heritage Society where the skull mug and other pirate treasures are displayed, Theodosia and her master tea blender, Drayton, are on the scene when a Heritage Society intern is stabbed to death as a pirate-crazed thief steals the grotesque mug.  The police seem stymied in the search for the murderer so the Director of the Heritage Society, Timothy Neville, begs his friends, Theodosia and Drayton, to poke around to see if they can learn anything about the murder that might help the police. 

There seems to be no lack of people in Charleston who collect pirate artifacts, so Theodosia baits a trap for the killer and almost loses two of her friends in the process.  Truthfully, the action associated with identifying and capturing the murderer isn't that captivating.  Even at the end of the book, mystery continues to shroud the skull mug  as it disappears into the Charleston Heritage Society vaults to be kept hidden for another few decades. 

Reading about the scones and dessert offerings at the Indigo Tea Shop (the tea shop that the main character Theodosia operates with the help of a master tea blender and a chef), as well as the eastern shore treats served at the Charleston parties Theodosia attends, make this a mystery during which I spent as much time resisting the urge to raid the refrigerator as wondering who killed the poor intern.  I want Haley, the Indigo Tea Shop chef, to come live at my house!

One can see the other creative side of Author Laura Childs who is a former CLIO award winning marketing CEO as she includes recipes and ideas for hosting various kinds of tea parties at the end of this book.   See below:

Letter Writing Tea
Aren't you tired of texting and e-mail?  Wouldn't it be fun to compose an old-fashioned letter?  Round up some quill pens, ink and fancy stationery, and invite your friends in to letter-writing tea.  Put on some relaxing music and let everyone jot a letter or a few thoughts while enjoying an afternoon of tea.  Oolong is a thoughtful blend that goes nicely with quiche, citrus salad, and lemon scones.  If you want to give your guests favors, think pretty pens and tiny notebooks in net bags.

Haley's Proprietary Lemon Scones
3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 Tbsp. baking power
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 Tbsp. water
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine the lemon zest and sugar, using a spoon to firmly grind it all together.  Add the sugar to the flour mixture and mix well.  Cut the butter into the mixture until you get an even, cumbly consistency.  Mix in the nuts, if using.  Pour in the buttermilk and stir thoroughly until the mixture forms a dense dough. Take a good-sized lump of dough and gently form it into a triangular scone shape.  Place the scone on a baking sheet lined with parchment, then continue forming scones until the mixture is used up.  Whisk the egg with the water to form an egg wash, then brush the egg wash on top of each scone.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
 This book counts toward my "Pastry Chef" status in the  Foodies Read 2 Reading Challenge!


  1. Real letters and snail mail--a lost art. Or at the very least, an art in the process of losing out to the cell phone, email, and Skype. It is especially a shame that the artifacts of "real" letters will be unavailable to generations to come.

    But sitting down with a cup of tea and some scones (lemon or otherwise, scones are my favorite sweets besides zucchini bread and biscotti) sounds lovely doesn't it? The image conjures up something comforting and peaceful.

    Have you tried the recipe yet? Sounds delicious, but then, I'm an admitted fan of scones!

    1. Jen, I haven't tried the scone recipe yet, not many of the others I've seen in books and posted on my blog. I put them here so I can come back to find them when I'm ready :-). I've only tried to make scones once before and it was a long time ago. I do love them thought and thought the idea of group writing with real ink pens sounds lovely and leisurely but truthfully not something I can do right now. Again, maybe later.

  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I am a follower, but wanted to tell you again that you blog is lovely.

    I like everything you have posted.

    Silver's Reviews

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth, I often stop by yours and appreciate your educating me on some of the finer points of blogging :-).