"It seems that over the last three days they have done nothing but drink tea and watch television. The mere action of filling the kettle is comforting, giving the impression that something, at least, is being achieved. Liquid is reaching boiling point, hot drinks are being made. Setting out the cups, finding sugar for Darren, waiting for the water to boil; in those minutes Cathbad allows himself not to think, except about whether he should bring in a plate of digestives. Even being in a separate room is a relief. The kitchen, with its shiny new cabinets, is pleasantly sterile in contrast to the teeming emotions in the rest of the house." -- Elly Griffiths, The Outcast Dead (p. 326).
Yes, tea for comfort, tea for distraction from frantic worry, tea to soothe difficult relationships or cement friendly ones. Ruth Galloway, main character of The Outcast Dead, habitually pours herself cups of tea at breakfast with her daughter Kate. After a minor car accident, "she doesn’t want to get into the whole ‘are you all right, have a cup of tea, are you sure you haven’t got whiplash’ thing." (p. 79). Drinking tea with her brother, whom she hasn't seen much of, brings them together. Her feelings about going out in the evening: "Even after a day in the sun, she’s longing to be home with a cup of tea. That’s what being forty-three does to you." (pp. 180-181). In stressful times and relaxed ones, everyone is always offering to make someone a cup of tea.
I'm sure this is very natural and normal for any British mystery series, even though Ruth is a heretic when it comes to certain other institutions -- for instance: "She goes into the kitchen to make breakfast. She’s pretty sure that Simon will expect the full English. It’s a concept which... is almost entirely alien to her." (p. 257).
The Outcast Dead is book 6 in the series of police procedurals, featuring Ruth Galloway, a forensic archaeologist in a small town in England. Like books 1 through 5 in the series, this one offers lots of suspense and a continuation of building the complicated lives and relationships of Ruth, her one-time lover Nelson (a policeman), other members of the police force, the egocentric head of Ruth's academic department, and the druid, born Michael, whose chosen name is Cathbad. As usual, several different crimes have occurred, and the police are investigating. Meanwhile Ruth is engaged in a professional dig that comes to the attention of a popular TV series, and she also helps the police to solve the crimes. There's a bit too much violence for this series to be classified as a pure cozy mystery, but it sure has plenty of tea.
Mystery author Elly Griffiths has written many more Ruth Galloway books, and other mysteries as well. I suspect I'll be reading more of them, as they are very lighthearted and amusing -- including the constant drinking of tea, which I'm sure will continue to occur on many occasions, as it was also drunk in books 1 through 6.
Blog post © 2021 mae sander.