The Pickled Piper by Mary Ellen Hughes is the first book in the new “Pickled and Preserved” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, May 2014

After her dreams of romance are crushed, Piper Lamb decides to pursue her dream of opening her own shop of pickles and preserves, called Piper’s Picklings, in the idyllic small town of Cloverdale. But she isn’t in town long before she encounters a barrelful of trouble.

The Cloverdale Fair offers Piper a sweet opportunity to promote her business. With her new assistant, Amy, she sets up a booth centered around an eye-catching display of the ever-popular dills in an old-fashioned barrel of brine.

But things soon turn sour when fairgoers witness a fight between Amy’s boyfriend, Nate, and town council blowhard—and bagpipe player—Alan Rosemont. When Rosemont is found floating in Piper’s barrel, Nate becomes the prime murder suspect. With Amy’s boyfriend in a pretty pickle, there’s no time to dillydally. But as Piper searches for the real killer, she needs to be careful to preserve her own life…or she may end up a pickled Piper herself.

I enjoyed this freshly-made story that was as sweet as the small town our heroine lives in and as sour as the murders that landed in her path. The author did a great job in pacing this light-hearted whodunit and setting up the mystery with enough suspects to keep me turning the pages, as I had to know who was behind it all. I liked that this tome teased me with clever twists that enhanced the delivery of this mystery as I followed the path of the killer. I like that the crime solving aspects of this story was a collaborating endeavor, led by Piper and their friends, lending a hand to clear Nate’s name. I love the small-town atmosphere giving a sense of close-knit family. Piper and her friends are very likable and I’m excited about their next adventures in this pleasantly delightful debut series.

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog

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