“Change is a good thing, right?”
I wasn’t quite sure how to respond when my BFF, Reba Mae Johnson, once posed the question. Sometimes change wasn’t either good or bad, it was just change. And I ought to know. Ask anyone in Brandywine Creek, Georgia, and they’ll tell you Piper Prescott was the Queen of Change. Not only had I divorced the low-down lying skunk I’d been married to for over twenty years, but I’d invested every last cent I had in a fledging business, Spice It Up!, in a building older than Methuselah. When it came to change, I could write a book.
But I wasn’t about to complain.. No way, no how. Life was good. Now that the murder of a local chef had been solved, peace and quiet reined once again in the small Southern town this Yankee had adopted as her home. At least, I thought it was peaceful and quiet..
The day had begun like any other: a morning jog with Casey, my rescue mutt of many breeds, coffee, shower, more coffee, a blueberry muffin, and then flipping the sign in my shop window from CLOSED to OPEN. Business was brisk. Thanks to the annual Barbecue Festival spices were practically flying off the shelves with cayenne pepper and chili powder leading the pack.
Later in the day though, things got really interesting when out-of-towners started to arrive for the festival. The first to appear were good ol’ boy Tex Mahoney, champion pitmaster, and dapper Wally Porter, certified master barbecue judge. They were followed by none other than Miss Va-Va-Voom herself, Barbara Bunker Quinlan, aka Barbie Q. Barbie, a hometown girl with an axe to grind, was about to launch a new show for barbecue aficionados, Some Like It Hot, on the Cooking Network. Added to the mix were locals, Becca Dapkins, clerk at the water department, and Maybelle Humphries, manager of the Chamber of Commerce. Each of the aforementioned had an agenda. I didn’t have to be clairvoyant to sense that competition for coveted first place between out-of-towners and locals would be fierce.
Things heated up higher than a red-hot charcoal briquette when my trusty canine and I stumbled upon Becca’s body under an azalea bush in the town square. No longer pretty in pink, Becca’ was deader ‘n a skunk. Seems Becca had been bludgeoned with a brisket. Sad way to meet your Maker and all because of a cheap cut of meat. Sadder still, Maybelle was Chief Wyatt McBride’s prime suspect. No one, not even a friend like me, could argue the fact that Maybelle had good reason to bean Becca with a brisket. What red-blooded woman wouldn’t be upset at a hussy for stealing her beau of thirteen years?
Problem was, I couldn’t reconcile the gentle Maybelle I’d known for years with such a vicious act. So I did what came naturally. I called my BFF and Reba Mae and I set out to find the real killer.
You can read more about Piper in Kill ‘Em With Cayenne, the second book in the “Spice Shop” mystery series, published by Minotaur. The first book in the series is Rosemary and Crime.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on December 23 for the chance to win a signed copy of KILL ‘EM WITH CAYENNE. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.
About the author
Gail Oust is often accused of flunking retirement. While working as a nurse/vascular technologist, she penned nine historical romances under the pseudonym of Elizabeth Turner. It wasn’t until she and her husband retired to South Carolina that inspiration struck for a mystery. Hearing the words “maybe it’s a dead body” while golfing fired her imagination for writing a cozy. Ever since then, she spends more time on a computer than at a golf course. Author of the Bunco Babe mysteries, she’s currently writing the Spice Shop Mysteries. Kill ‘em With Cayenne, the second in the series, was released in December 2014.