by Sandra Murphy
Details at the end of this post on how to win a copy of The Candy Cane Cupcake Killer, along with a link to purchase the book where a portion goes to help support KRL & an indie bookstore.
Pepper’s Spice Shop is ready for spring brides, with a new bridal registry that includes cookbooks, gadgets, and exotic spice blends; and they’re planning ahead for the next season as well. Things are running smoothly except for Lynette. She has no social skills in dealing with the customers. Pepper had to give her a warning when Lynette got snippy over a return. It’s time to look for more help, just in case.
Pepper also sells to restaurants. Tamar works for Pepper’s ex-boyfriend, Alex, but like many good sous-chefs, she wants to be her own boss. Now things have finally come together and she’s got a space, an investor, and a ton of recipes in the works. She’ll open next door to an Indian restaurant, hoping they’ll bring each other business.
After a consultation with Pepper, Tamara leaves with some sample spices, including the bestseller, cinnamon and ghost peppers, the kind so hot they can blow the top off a volcano. Her visit is followed by one from a reporter. He’s there for a quote, but Pepper’s employees think he has potential on a personal level, too. The next visitor to the shop isn’t so nice. It’s Alex and he’s as mad as a chef can get. He’s heard Tamara plans to leave and that Pepper knew but didn’t tell him. The question in Pepper’s mind is: how did he know?
The answer becomes obvious from Lynette’s behavior. To get even with Pepper for criticizing her lack of skill with customers, she called and ratted out Tamara. Well, that little bit of revenge just cost her a job.
Things only get worse when Tamara’s body is found in her restaurant-to-be. Poor Pepper, she’s the one to find her. The police suspect Alex because of his screaming display at his restaurant and Pepper’s shop. Even getting arrested doesn’t make him tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but.
Before Pepper can find Lynette’s replacement, longtime employee Zak gives notice; he’s been given an offer too good to pass up. Tag, Pepper’s ex-husband, is still coming around. He’s a bicycle officer in the market, which gives him a good excuse. Brad the reporter is showing interest, but Pepper’s pretty sure he’s much too young for her. To keep her mind off all that, Pepper does a bit of investigating herself—but the more information she gathers, the more questions she has.
Pepper is a woman who knows what she wants and what kind of people she wants to be around, and is a good businesswoman besides. There are a couple of homeless men she’s been kind to, and they keep an eye on things for her. Arf, her dog, inherited from another homeless man who left the area to live with family, is a delight. Her backup employee who’s been at the shop as long as it’s been open is a fun character—as are Pepper’s friends.
The mystery is a complicated one but Pepper manages to figure things out in the end. The spice shop’s a must-see, of course. Pepper will give you a tour so you can see vendors send salmon flying aisle-to-aisle in the market. Arf will give slurpy kisses, Alex will cook, Brad will be good company, and you can watch Tag bike past (Spandex bike shorts). Pepper’s included recipes for making your own curry powder, garam masala, falafel burgers with lemon-tahini sauce, arugula fennel salad with double mustard vinaigrette, spicy sausage, a Cosmopolitan, a Negroni, roasted nuts, and orange cinnamon crème brulée.
This is the second in the series. Budewitz also writes the Food Lovers’ Village series.
To enter to win a copy of Guilty as Cinnamon, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “cinnamon,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 19, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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