About Assault and Pepper
Series: A Spice Shop Mystery (#1)
Kindle Edition: 304 pages
Published: March 2015 by Berkley
Goodreads Description: 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…
Assault and Pepper is the first book in Leslie Budewitz’s Spice Shop Mystery series. Pepper has recently lost her job, divorced her detective husband, and purchased the Seattle Spice Shop. She’s just starting to get the hang of being a small business owner in downtown Seattle, when one of the area’s local panhandlers dies outside her store. The police quickly deem it murder, and soon arrest one of Pepper’s employees.
If you’re like me and sometimes skip straight to the rating (it’s fine, we all do it), you’ll see this wasn’t a hit for me. For one thing, I felt like I didn’t know Pepper – or any of the other characters – any better at the end of the story than at the beginning. There just wasn’t enough character development. Because of that, I truly didn’t care what happened.
I also didn’t really care about the mystery, because to me the killer was painstakingly obvious. Part of it was the fact that the person was mentioned and then more or less ignored. If you read enough cozies (which I do), that’s a sure sign that’s whodunit. The other part was the method – poisoning requires certain knowledge, and there’s a small number of likely candidates. If you read Assault and Pepper, come back and tell me how long it took you to guess the murderer.
What I did enjoy, though, were all the descriptions of spices. Which is funny, because a lot of reviewers seem to think there was too much spice talk! For me, the lack of character and plot development made the spices the only interesting part of the book.
I ended up skimming the last third or so of Assault and Pepper, but I don’t regret reading it. Cozies are generally quick and light. If you’re a fan of the genre, this one might be worth keeping for a rainy day.