Alex Erickson’s barista turned part-time sleuth, Krissey Hancock, finds herself the target of a sinister stalker in her newest book Death by Spiced Chai. Everything begins with little incidents such as the sudden appearance of cockroaches, and ominous texts about her local cop boyfriend Paul Daulton. At first, most are easily explained as either accidents or perhaps even as revenge by someone in town who has taken exception to Krissey’s history of being a tad too intrusive in her past investigations. But soon things escalate to accusations from friends and neighbors. Krissey finds her head spinning and anxiety rising as she desperately tries to clear her name left and right. Despite her efforts, things continue to escalate and eventually the police come to accuse her of vandalism of other local establishments, and then even of murder!
In addition to having to worry about someone stalking and harassing her about town, Krissey finds herself with a very antagonistic new neighbor, Caitlin. She is hostile from the first ‘hello’ and seems to have no interest in explaining why or reconciling with Krissey. Given her attitude, and the camera Krissey finds aimed at her house, it seems the best culprit for all her misfortune is Caitlin. Thanks to local busybody Rita, Krissey also finds that not only is someone running her good name by leaving horrible notes in her name, there is also someone launching an online campaign against her on a local online news site called The Eyes of Hills by a very mysterious author Abby Kohn. Try as she might, Krissey can’t find any actual person named Abbey Kohn and is forced to endure knowing someone is writing slanderous and hurtful things about her, alienating her from all of her friends, and running her out of town.
Krissey is outwardly determined to keep her beloved Death by Coffee afloat and salvage her reputation, but internally it is clear that her own insecurities and anxiety are eating her alive. Every day she is wondering who could be watching her, and from where. She’s unable to be at peace as someone attacks her again and again on a public news forum that she cannot face or fight. Every day is marked with fear that any individual on the street might come and rail into her for something she did not even do! Her self-doubt and insecurities have her putting a wall up between her and her boyfriend, questioning herself, and living in fear that at any time someone might spring upon her. It is a struggle to try and move past her emotional turmoil to try and trust Paul and to continue to fight to keep her place in Pine Hills. Thankfully, Krissey’s love of puzzles and finely honed deductive reasoning skills help to propel her through clue after clue, and finally to the true culprit behind her suffering.
Alex Erickson draws readers into Krissey’s mind, and easily relates the anxiety, fear, and determination she faces every step of the way. The spectacular detail put into her investigative process and emotions makes her relatable and empathetic so that readers will find themselves biting their nails, and celebrating each victory right along with her. I was left eager to read more yet pleased with the exciting conclusion. Regardless of if one is picking up an Alex Erickson novel for the first time, or an avid follower of Krissey’s adventures, Death by Spiced Chai is a must read! –Carla Schantz
Carla Schantz is a Courthouse Clerk Supervisor and has a bachelor’s degree in English as well as a master’s in legal studies. Books have been a passion of hers since she was young, and she is a firm believer in the purse book so that she is never without a book at any time.