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Soggy saga of the fight to control a Boston tea empire. The Templetons of Boston have been in the tea biz ever since the 18th century and the time of witchy ancestor Helen Templeton; now the company is worth millions. Unfortunately, they're a violent bunch, and someone is always committing suicide or falling down the stairs in a suspicious fashion: ""Tragedy seemed to stalk the family; people sometimes compared them to the Kennedys."" Or, as Nick Templeton says as the novel opens in 1986: ""It's the fucking family curse!"" In any event, the action centers on the fact that 80-year-old Minerva Templeton is about to retire. Who will take over the reins of the company? Trustworthy, dependable grandson Travis, who has worked there for years? Or flighty granddaughter Delilah, who left in the 70's to start her own highly successful--but somewhat flashy--herbal tea company? (Nick, Travis' handsome young half-brother, is a writer of mysteries and safely out of the fray.) Minerva has given Travis and Delilah a year to prove themselves, and now the dirt really starts to fly. Travis, it turns out, secretly smuggles cocaine in with his Darjeeling. And he and Delilah had an affair way back when they thought they were only first cousins--though it turns out they are really half-brother and sister, due to some hanky-panky on the part of their respective parents. The pot comes to a sluggish boil when Minerva dies, leaving the entire company to Delilah--and Travis turns into a maniac and tries to kill her and Nick (now her lover). A murky brew, complete with ghostly visitations by 18th-century Templeton ancestors and Delilah's weird combination of 40's career-girl pep talk (""Snap out of it, duchess. . .Chin up and give 'em hell"") and 80's sophistication (She wouldn't mind ""a little S and M with someone I trust"").

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 1988
Publisher: Doubleday