My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I went on a cleaning spree and cut my TBR (To Be Read) by 50% last week. I also finished reading all of my commitments through the end of the year, so I could finally pick out a few books from my TBR that I’ve wanted to read for years. The ‘A Spice Shop Mystery series’ or any book by Leslie Budewitz, was one of those I kept on the TBR, and finally, I made room for it this week by taking on Assault and Pepper, the first in the series. What a fun book and treat to spend time in Seattle again…
Pepper worked in Corporate Human Resources for ~20 years and then left the company when things went belly up. Rather than jump back into the grind, she bought a spice shop and turned it into a new passion. [She and I have a lot in common, except mine was technology and writing books. Maybe I’m more like Leslie!] The first book begins months after the shop’s been open and things are growing for the protagonist in Seattle’s world-renowned market. Then a homeless man dies on Pepper’s doorstep one night. Pepper stays away from the death until she learns the man had a connection to one of her employees, who is later arrested for murder. When Pepper hears too many rumors about her store and friend, she throws herself into the investigation to try and clear her friend and her own reputation.
I’ve probably read ~400 cozies at this point in my life and with each new series, I try to find something educational and fun. This one has both… I also love to cook and experiment, so the exposure to the spice market is a nice addition for my reading queue. There’s a balance between setting the tone and lay-of-the-land in this first book as well as solving a tricky mystery. All the characters are defined, but I haven’t quite latched on to anyone yet. Pepper is strong, and I’ll definitely grow more attached as the series continues. I plan to read the next few in January and February so I’m current for when the 4th book comes out. It looks like the author wrote a few in the 2015 range, then took a few years off to write another series. But a new one comes out in early/mid 2019 and I want to try to get an ARC.
Budewitz is a talented writer. She draws you in and drops clues along the way so you can try to solve the case yourself. She’s created a wonderful fictional setting based on the real Seattle setting, and when I visit the city again next year, I’ll be sure to lookout for some of the places she’s mentioned that are real. I also like how Budewitz handled the social awareness aspects of the homeless population in Seattle, and how the city works with them rather than against them, as occurs in other cities around the country. There are clever name-drops of real authors and books who are the author’s real life friends and colleagues. I’ve read one and intend to read another this coming year.
For a new series, it’s got all the right potentials and basics to become strong. I’ll have to spend some time researching the author to see if she’s continuing past the upcoming next book or if it was just a fun addition to the series in the short term. Thanks for a fun few hours with this one, LB!
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.