Saturday, December 28, 2013

Southern Cozy Mystery with Spice

Piper Prescott, newly divorced, put everything she got from the divorce into an upscale spice shop in Brandywine, Georgia hoping to turn her life around. It's the grand opening and a major attraction is the most famous chef in town. He makes wonderful meals, but he also has a temper. He agreed to prepare a roast and demonstration the preparation for Piper's opening, but she's not quite sure he'll show.

On the morning of the opening, she goes to the Tratoria, his restaurant, to retrieve some Juniper berries she gave him to use to prepare the roast for the cooking demonstration, and finds the chef on the floor in a pool of blood. Now the question is who killed him and the new police chief thinks Piper is a likely suspect.

This is a typical cozy mystery: female character trying to turn her life around; forced into sleuthing to clear her name; sexy police chief who seems to have it in for her; troublesome teenage daughter; dumb ex-husband; but an interesting setting in a small Southern town.

Piper could be a strong character. She's gutsy, wants to make a success of the shop, and not be beholden to her rather dim ex, CJ. However, her internal monologue is rather excessive. She makes stupid errors, like finding the knife outside the Tratoria, dropping it, and then not admitting what she's done. This leads to all sorts of misunderstandings with the new police chief, who acts incompetent.

I thought the author tried to hard to give Piper a reason to become involved in the murder. The dropping of the knife is transparent. Unless you enjoy banal dialog, it doesn't lend much to the plot. On the positive side, the plot move along. However, the author doesn't make enough of the interesting small town. The spice shop is a good setting, but in my opinion, the author could have done more to exploit it with information about spices and perhaps a few recipes.

If you enjoy cozy mysteries with a romantic element, you may like this one.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley