AUDIO REVIEW: SPICY TEA AND SYMPATHY (BRENDA AND EFFIE) / AUTHOR: PAUL MAGRS / PUBLISHER: BAFFLEGAB / STARRING: ANNE REID, DAN STARKEY, STEPHEN CRITCHLOW / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 17TH
Spicy Tea and Sympathy continues the so far excellent Brenda and Effie Mysteries, written by Paul Magrs and produced by bafflegab.
In many ways this is a traditional tea and bandaged revenant story and is told in a series of flashbacks. As Brenda lies helpless she recalls both how she and Effie became entwined in the evil schemes of Professor Marius (he of the new tearoom in the park) and then digs further into her surprisingly long memory. As she recalls events of the 1930s, another tale of dark deeds, tea and bandaged fiends surfaces, much to the surprise of Effie (the witch). Just how old is Brenda, and just what is her backstory?
With its flashback style, this has a different feel to the earlier stories, though is no less gripping. Paul Magrs dry humour pervades the writing, both in the 1930s flashbacks and the drama unfolding in the Professor’s secret lair. The 1930s sequences form a large part of the action, and this has the effect of minimising the contribution of Effie to events. It does give full attention to both Dan Starkey and Stephen Critchlow as they tell the tale of when Reginald Tyler, Henry Cleavis and the Smudeglings fought mummified creatures in the rarefied academic Oxford circles. The in-jokes are wonderful but don’t stifle the story-telling.
Not only is the writing spot on, but Anne Reid gives yet another superb performance as narrator and most of the voices in this tale of exotic tea leaves and vital life essences.
Bafflegab will release Bat Out of Hull on April 17th (and a month later on audible); full details are available on their website for this and the rest of this series.
The quality of this series remains top notch and June can’t come too soon for the final instalment in what we hope will only be the first series of The Brenda and Effie Mysteries. This may just be another example of a tea and revenant tale, but it is by far the best in an otherwise unexplored sub-genre.