a spice shop mystery

Book Review: Killing Thyme by Leslie Budewitz

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Killing Thyme (A Spice Shop Mystery, #3)Killing Thyme by Leslie Budewitz

My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars

Spices are essential to making our food and drinks taste better. Leslie Budewitz’s ‘A Spice Shop Mystery’ series is essential to making our cozy mystery reading schedules even better. I want to kick myself for waiting several years before picking up this series, but at the same time the next book doesn’t release until June 2019, so I might have been frustrated waiting that long if I had finished them sooner. With all 3 published ones under my belt, I can say two things: (1) I’m a definite fan and (2) It’s time to move on to her next series which takes place in the NW USA too.

In Killing Thyme, Pepper’s finally got everything under control. Her shop is doing well, Pepper has two great employees to replace the ones she lost in the last book, her mom is coming for a visit from South America, and she’s dating a cute and kind reporter. But with her mom comes a secret from the past hurling quickly like a typhoon at Seattle’s Pike Place Market where you’d never expect one to appear. A fellow store artisan is not who she appears to be… and when she’s found dead early one morning, Pepper’s forced into protecting her mother from being punished for a crime she didn’t commit (at least we think so). Throw in a few cute ‘dates’ with the reporter, a couple of accidents with her friends, and a very curious bracelet that appears from nowhere and you’ve got quite a mystery to solve.

I think the series’ setting has fully fallen into place. We have a wonderful group of supporting characters and stores that make each book connective and fun. My favorite parts besides the murder mystery occur when Pepper goes for her daily walk around the market and catches up with friends we’ve come to adore. Having Arf, her awesome dog, makes it all the more enticing, too. Sometimes she learns a clue, others it’s just more confusion. Budewitz knows how to drop just enough to make us squint and scratch our chin over what’s the truth and what’s a lie. I enjoy this series and was glad to get to know some of Pepper’s family. Her mom’s a hoot and I can only imagine what she was like as a psuedo-hippie nearly 40 years earlier. The best part… we finally learn Pepper’s REAL NAME! Another great installment in the lives of the curious and ‘glamorous’ life in Seattle’s finest market… can’t wait to visit again in June. Thanks for an amazing and strong beginning to my 2019 reads, LB!

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About Me
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.

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Book Review: Guilty as Cinnamon by Leslie Budewitz

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Guilty as Cinnamon (A Spice Shop Mystery, #2)Guilty as Cinnamon by Leslie Budewitz

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.

View all my reviews

About Me
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.

Book Review: Assault and Pepper by Leslie Budewitz

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Assault and Pepper (A Spice Shop Mystery, #1)Assault and Pepper by Leslie Budewitz

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!

View all my reviews

About Me
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.