Guilty as CinnamonI will be the first to admit, I’m no saint. I have a terrible temper. I am impatient beyond belief with stupid employees. Stupid customers, I can handle—you run a restaurant, you run into idiots who think it’s funny to joke that the salmon mousse doesn’t have antlers or horns or whatever moose have as if you’ve never heard that before. Like sixteen thousand times. It’s a wonder I still bother serving the stuff, but it’s so damn good. Excuse me, so darn good.

But stupid employees drive me nuts, in a bad way. So when I find one who adores good food, I go nuts, in a good way.

I am all about good food. Besides, I hire a top-notch front end manager for each of my establishments, and she—or he; I am an equal opportunity employer, which not everyone in the restaurant biz can say—hires only the best wait staff. They handle the stupid customers.

Only the best staff. Which is why I was so rocked when Tamara Langston came to work for me. She’d had a rough time in the biz, with that ex-husband of hers who can’t tell a zucchini from a green bean, and wouldn’t know a decent aioli if it bit him in the you-know-what. But she can cook. Not just make great cakes and salads like so many women in the kitchen, who act like filets are “just too hard—no, Chef, don’t make me!” No, not her. She wanted to know everything I knew, from where to buy the freshest mussels, to how to make my famous green olive popovers, to how to cook with bhut capsicum, the infamous ghost chile.

And I taught her everything I knew. I let her in on all my secrets. Well, not the one from way back when, when Glassy and I first met. We did some stupid things. We managed to avoid paying the price—how, I have never known, but I am not going to look a gift like that in the mouth, I’ll tell you that for nothing.

I gave Tamara the run of my kitchen, the run of my flagship restaurant. I took her in. I sheltered her. I won’t say I taught her everything I know, but damn close. Excuse me, darn close.

Which is why it pissed me off royally that she quit like she did.

Worst part of all—if she hadn’t quit, she might still be alive.

You can read more about Alex in Guilty As Cinnamon, the second book in the “Seattle Spice Shop” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime/Penguin Random House. The first book in the series is Assault and Pepper.

ABOUT Guilty As Cinnamon

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. . .

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GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on December 28 for your chance to win a print copy of GUILTY AS CINNAMON. (US entries only, please.) Good luck everyone!

About the author
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. The president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, 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 at, and on Facebook.

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