On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.
Assault and Pepper (A Spice Shop Mystery)
1st in Series
Setting – Washington State
Berkley (March 3, 2015)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Kindle ASIN: B00LMGK51A
The Agatha Award-winning author of Crime Rib is proud to introduce Pepper Reece, the owner of the Seattle Spice Shop who thinks she can handle any kind of salty customer—until a murderer ends up in the mix…
After leaving a dicey marriage and losing a beloved job in a corporate crash, Pepper Reece has found a new zest for life running a busy spice and tea shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Her aromatic creations are the talk of the town, and everyone stops by for a cup of her refreshing spice tea, even other shopkeepers and Market regulars. But when a panhandler named Doc shows up dead on the store’s doorstep, a Seattle Spice Shop cup in his hand, the local gossip gets too hot for Pepper to handle—especially after the police arrest one of Pepper’s staffers, Tory Finch, for murder.
Tory seems to know why she’s a suspect, but she refuses to do anything to curry favor with the cops. Convinced her reticent employee is innocent, Pepper takes it on herself to sniff out some clues. Only, if she’s not careful, Pepper’s nosy ways might make her next on the killer’s list…
Pepper Reece’s life was in flux, her job eliminated and her marriage over. She took a gigantic leap and bought the Seattle Spice Shop in the Pike Place Market. She is working at making the place her own while keeping all the current customers and gaining new ones too. It is a popular place where tourists, fellow shopkeepers, and local market customers stop by for a cup of spice tea to get their day started.
One morning when Pepper arrives to open the shop she finds a body blocking her path with one of her stamped cups in his hand. Doc, was a panhandler that had recently shown up on her corner. He hadn’t been dead for long and Pepper is surprised to find out one of her employees was already in her shop. Tory Finch works for Pepper but she is also an artist. She tells Pepper she came in early to work on some sketches. The police take her presence to mean something else. They have made her their prime suspect and have placed her under arrest and thrown away the key. Pepper wants to help as does the rest of her staff but Tory just wants to be left alone. Pepper will not let her employee be railroaded. She is going to spice things up by finding the killer herself.
I have never been to Seattle but when I think about the city, I think of rain and coffee. After reading this book I will also think of the Pike Place Market and Pepper’s fantastic shop. She and her staff make their own spice blends depending on the month and the season. They also create and sell their own spiced tea. I could almost smell the aromas right through the pages and I learned some interesting things too. The market is a real place and also very unique, on the waterfront with views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound. There are many levels, passages and nooks, and crannies. The author’s descriptions draw a clear picture but I still had to look it up online to satisfy my curiosity. I would love to enjoy it in person someday.
Pepper is a caring individual. She watches out for her friends and staff, and she takes an active role with the homeless that spend their time at the marketplace. When 2 panhandlers had a disagreement about her corner she went out to help them find a suitable answer when others may have just called the police. Her ex-husband just happens to be one of the officers that patrols the area on his bicycle and she tries to involve him as little as possible in her life. The staff is a quirky group that works well together.
I enjoyed the mystery in this story. The connections that were revealed opened up a realm of possibilities. With some original twists, the story evolved in a satisfactory fashion. I was caught up in the whodunit right away, but with Pepper’s background in Human Resources, a couple of things had me shaking my head. I appreciated how the homeless issues were addressed and the part they played in the story.
As the first book in the series, this story gave me everything I was looking for, intelligent and engaging characters, a spectacular setting, and a mystery that made me think. I look forward to reading the next book in this series soon.
About the Author
Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician, and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model, and avid bird-watcher.
Also by this Author
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