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The Solace of Bay Leaves


Pepper Reece never expected to find solace in bay leaves.

But when her life fell apart at forty and she bought the venerable-but-rundown Spice Shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, her days took a tasty turn. Now she’s savoring the prospect of a flavorful fall and a busy holiday cooking season, until danger bubbles to the surface . . .

Between managing her shop, worrying about her staff, and navigating a delicious new relationship, Pepper’s firing on all burners. But when her childhood friend Maddie is shot and gravely wounded, the incident is quickly tied to an unsolved murder that left another close friend a widow.

Convinced that the secret to both crimes lies in the history of a once-beloved building, Pepper uses her local-girl contacts and her talent for asking questions to unearth startling links between the past and present—links that suggest her childhood friend may not have been the Golden Girl she appeared to be. Pepper is forced to face her own regrets and unsavory emotions, if she wants to save Maddie’s life—and her own.

Leslie Budewitz blends her passion for food, great mysteries, and the Northwest in two cozy mystery series, the Spice Shop Mysteries, set in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, and the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, set in NW Montana. Leslie is the winner of three Agatha Awards—2013 Best First Novel for DEATH AL DENTE, the first Food Lovers' Village mystery; 2011 Best Nonfiction, and 2018 Best Short Story, for “All God’s Sparrows,” her first historical fiction. Her work has also won or been nominated for Derringer, Anthony, and Macavity awards. A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives and cooks in NW Montana.

Agatha Award winner Budewitz’s savory fifth Spice Shop Mystery (after 2019’s?Chai Another Day) opens with Pepper Reece, owner of Seattle Spice, a taste-tingling shop located in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, having dinner with her best friend, Kristen Gardiner. Then Kristen receives a frantic text from their mutual friend Laurel Halloran, who has just learned that a handgun used in a recent shooting is a match for the gun used in her husband Pat’s unsolved murder three years earlier. Pepper is shocked to hear that the shooting victim is real estate developer Mattie Petrosian, a childhood acquaintance. Mattie is unconscious, and since there were no witnesses, the police have little to go on. What could Mattie possibly have had in common with a murdered man she barely knew? But as Pepper tries to make a connection between the shootings, she learns that Mattie and her husband may have been unwitting victims of a grievance that has lasted through generations. Budewitz’s affection for Seattle is apparent on every page. Foodie mystery aficionados will love the mouthwatering recipes at the end.

– Publishers Weekly

More books from this author: Leslie Budewitz