My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars
Guilty as Cinnamon is the second book in Leslie Budewitz’s ‘A Spice Shop Mysteries’ cozy series. The books take place in Seattle’s Pike Place Market revolving around Pepper’s spice shop. I’ve wanted to read some of Budewitz’s books for a few years and decided last December to pick up this series. It’s a fun one and I see great improvement between the first two books. I’m thrilled I selected this one and already ordered the third to read next week.
In this caper, Pepper’s having a few staffing and infrastructure issues at her shop. She’s ended the tentative relationship with Alex from the last book and is also hoping to stay away from her ex-husband who has clearly sent signals he wants to get back together. Alex’s key chef, Tamara, reveals she’s opening her own restaurant and wants to work with Pepper to order her spices. Pepper must keep the secret but also knows Alex can be vengeful. A few days later, Tamara’s found dead in her new building from an apparent overdose of hot peppers she likely bought from Pepper. Alex is arrested and begs Pepper to help him despite being angry she kept Tamara’s secret. Tons of other past relationships come to light with another store owner, one of Pepper’s employees, and ghosts throughout the market. How’s it all connected? Pepper is determined to figure it out without dying herself.
The mystery is very strong. Besides the primary focus on who killed Tamara, we have some side stories with Pepper’s employees causing mischief, electrical problems in the market, and secret identities. When we finally learn who smothered Tamara, it was fitting and made sense. I think the overall final chapter ending was a little too rushed / open-ended but not enough to worry me. Once we learned the killer’s identity and how some stories collided, I had open questions about how it tied together. Some readers like a little bit of vague explanation, others want the detail… this will be right in the middle. I love how Budewitz weaves everything together and readers are suddenly going “ah… now I understand why X did such and such a thing…”
As a series, I’m starting to really enjoy all the characters and setting in the market. It’s becoming well cemented in terms of “I hope character Y comes back again” and “They better visit store Z again.” That’s the sign of a great author… one who lures you in not only with the main mystery but the comings and goings of the main character’s personal life. Pepper is fun and cool, yet she has a few flaws. She feels real, so I enjoy reading about her daily actions. I look forward to the next book which focuses on Pepper’s mother, best friend, and family secrets hidden in the past.
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.