Between a Wok and a Dead Place By Leslie Budewitz: Review/Giveaway

Sep 9, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, along with a link to purchase it.

Pepper Reece is the owner of the successful Spice Shop in Pike Place Market in Seattle. Touring the food booths and observing the crowd, Pepper and her family are enjoying the Lunar New Year celebration, Year of the Rabbit, in the Chinatown International District. When she and a friend wander into a dim area, Pepper is shocked to see a woman she knows run out of an old building and announce she’s found a body.

It’s Roxanne, Pepper’s boyfriend’s ex-wife’s younger sister. The building is the old Gold Rush Hotel, unoccupied for years but the focus of real estate brokers. The owner refuses to sell. Now renovations are starting but no one knows what is going on.

Roxanne’s job is curator of weird things and collectibles. When an old Chinese pharmacy is found in the basement, it only adds to the questions. Who was the dead man? Was he after something in the pharmacy? Who set it up and why is it in the basement of a hotel?

Pepper has other worries. Her boyfriend Nate is a fisherman in Alaska during the season, working with his brother. It’s a dangerous job but if he quits, what will he do instead? He also drops a hint about Roxanne’s background but doesn’t tell the whole story. Can she be trusted?

In the spice shop, sales are up and more employees are needed. Pepper barely has time to breathe as it is, so interviewing employees is a necessity but also time consuming. A dead body, a room filled with Chinese medicines, a friend who has a past, a boyfriend whose future may change, and business almost too good—what else can go wrong? Well, the killer could come after Pepper…

This is the seventh book in the series. The description of Pike Place Market is so detailed, that you can smell the spices and picture the “thrown” fish. I love the scenes with Arf, Pepper’s Airedale. There are a lot of names to remember but if you forget who’s who, there’s a handy cast of characters in the front of the book. At the back of the book, Pepper shares historical notes and recipes for Spice Shop tea, five spice blend, five spice French apple custard cake, apple and smoked cheddar scones, cheddar rosemary crackers, cheddar pimento olive puffs, Hungarian mushroom soup, longevity noodles, and egg tarts.

To enter to win a copy of Between a Wok and a Dead Place, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “wok” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 16, 2023. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode goes up next week.

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the Amazon link. You can also click here to purchase the book.

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the Arch in St. Louis Missouri. She’s editor for Peace, Love, and Crime: Crime Stories Inspired by the Songs of the ’60s, with twenty-two cozy stories. She also edited A Murder of Crows, twenty-one stories featuring animals and crime (no animals were harmed). She also writes for magazines, newsletters, and the occasional guest blog. Both anthologies are available at the usual outlets, print or ebook.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. It sounds really interesting and the cover really catches the eye.

  2. It sounds interesting and the cover is eye catching.

  3. Sounds interesting! They need to call up Lana Lee to help!

    • Great series! Would love to read.

  4. I love this series! Pepper and crew are such a fun group of characters and the mystery is always well plotted with great twists and turns. The reveal is always a surprise!

  5. Love the cover and title.

  6. Love this series. Want to read it
    now, rather than wait in line at the
    library. thanks txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

  7. I love that it is set during Chinese New Year. The holiday timing adds its own extras to the story than traditional calendar holidays that are more frequently used.

  8. Great series. Would love to read this book.

  9. This book sounds good and such a cute cover,

  10. I love this series! I want to go to Seattle sooooo badly but expect to see Pepper’s shop, it feels so real! Can’t wait to read it! ?

  11. Between a Wok and a Dead Place by Leslie Budewitz sounds like a fabulous mystery. I have read and enjoyed other books written by Leslie.

  12. We have a winner!


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