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 first fell in love with Pike Place Market when she was a college student in Seattle. As a young lawyer working downtown, she ate her way through the Market at least twice a week, and still makes regular pilgrimages.
The president of Sisters in Crime, Leslie lives in northwest Montana with her husband, Don Beans, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher. Connect with her through her website and blog (LINK) or on Facebook (LINK).
GUILTY AS CINNAMON (Spice Shop Mystery #2, out December 1, from Berkley Prime Crime)
Pepper Reece knows that fiery flavors are the spice of life. But when a customer dies of a chili overdose, she finds herself in hot pursuit of a murderer…
From the cover …
Murder heats up Seattle’s Pike Place Market in the next Spice Shop mystery from the national bestselling author of Assault and Pepper.
Springtime in Seattle’s Pike Place Market means tasty foods and wide-eyed tourists, and Pepper’s Seattle Spice Shop is ready for the crowds. With flavorful combinations and a fresh approach, she’s sure to win over the public. Even better, she’s working with several local restaurants as their chief herb and spice supplier. Business is cooking, until one of Pepper’s potential clients, a young chef named Tamara Langston, is found dead, her life extinguished by the dangerously hot ghost chili—a spice Pepper carries in her shop.
Now stuck in the middle of a heated police investigation, Pepper must use all her senses to find out who wanted to keep Tamara’s new café from opening—before someone else gets burned…
Readers often imagine that the main character in a novel—the protagonist, in writer-speak—is the writer herself. Now I’m writing two series, the Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries and the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries set in NW Montana. Which woman is me—Pepper Reece, my Seattleite, or Erin Murphy, my Montana girl? Both—and neither. And that’s the fun. I get to draw on my own experiences, while imagining very different lives.
Erin Murphy, the protagonist of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, is a lot like me in many ways. She left her native Montana, then returned in her early 30s. She spouts off snippets from plays and poems with little provocation. Jewel Bay, her hometown, is a lot like the community where I live, so she lets me dive into that theme of coming home, only to find that both you and the place have changed more than you expected. I also get to share my love of this wonderful state and a town that never fails to surprise visitors!
On the flip side, Erin is quite a bit younger, lives near her food-loving family, and even runs a business with her mother. Challenges, challenges!
Pepper Reece, the owner of Seattle Spice Shop in the Pike Place Market, is a Seattle girl through and through. She lets me indulge and explore my love of the Emerald City. We both fit the “life begins at 40” cliché, and as with Erin, I find it a lot of fun to explore an aspect of my own life through the life of a younger woman with her own talents, quirks, and choices.
Pepper dove into retail after her marriage ended and the law firm where she’d worked in HR, managing staff, imploded in scandal and took her job with it. She tossed her office wardrobe, cut her hair, and bought the Spice Shop, a forty-year-old institution that had lost its verve. She’s also got a wonderful loft in a century-old downtown warehouse, and in ASSAULT AND PEPPER, inherits a dog. She’s loyal, creative, and adventuresome, traits I think we share. Those are also great traits for an amateur sleuth. In GUILTY AS CINNAMON, those traits lead her to investigate the murder of a young woman she’d admired, and expose secrets that others are desperate to keep hidden.
As with Erin, Pepper’s commitment to her business gives her eyes and ears in the community—and that allows me to slip them into an investigation easily. Both are passionate about what they do, making them great company—a bonus when you spend months with a character.
I’ve got a theory about what makes amateur sleuths so intriguing, and it fits both Pepper and Erin. Murder disrupts the community. In an amateur sleuth mystery, the protagonist investigates, while law enforcement runs a parallel, official investigations. The officers and prosecutors are responsible for restoring external order. The amateur, through her involvement in the community, restores the social order. Both are essential for true justice.
And that drive, that belief that each of has a responsibility to work for justice, is ultimately what unites my protagonists and me, and makes them worth writing.