I have lived a good life. A long one—I won’t tell you just how long, because a man’s got to keep some things to himself. I miss my wife and my son every minute of every day, but my heart just about bursts when I think of my two girls—they’re past fifty, each of ’em, but they’ll always be my girls. And my granddaughters—well, there aren’t finer young women around.
Cayenne is named for the ingredient that counts in Tabasco sauce. Lordy, did we miss the stuff when we moved from Louisiana out to Seattle in the 1950s, the way you could smell it on the air. Now you can buy it everywhere, and it’s still good, but it’s even better to have my own reminder, right here in the family. That girl can cook just about anything. She’s an even better cook than her grandmama, and that’s saying a lot.
I thought Cayenne ought to cook in a restaurant, but she said no, she’d rather use her knowledge helping people make their own good food at home. She hired on at the Seattle Spice Shop in the Pike Place Market, working for Pepper Reece. Cayenne and Pepper—can you believe it?
That Pepper, she’s a fiery one. Smart, thank goodness, because she just can’t seem to keep her nose out of trouble. That’s how I met her—she and her dog, Arf, were nosing around in my neighborhood, after a woman got killed. Arf’s one of them Airedales—they call ’em the King of the Terriers—I heard all about it on that TV show, Planet of the Animals, I think it’s called. Anyway, a woman got killed in one of those artists’ studios across the way, and Pepper knew her from way back, and she—well, I won’t tell you what she did, but she found the killer, I’ll tell you that.
This neighborhood sure has changed a lot since me and my beloved moved in. Raised our three kids here. Lost our boy in the war. Bonnie, the woman what got killed, was a potter. She came over to introduce herself and give me a coffee mug she made. I gave her flowers from my backyard. She saw his picture on the sideboard, with his flag and medals. The sight of him bothered her a lot. I learned some things about her later that weren’t too flattering, but I’ll tell you, the way she looked at his picture and let me go on about him, that meant a lot to me. And it told me she was good in her heart.
I like to think most people are good in their hearts, though sometimes you gotta wonder. Especially these days. Now my wife, she would tell me “Lou, you’re being ornery again,” and shake her finger at me to shape up. If I groused about the kids who hang around outside the bakery across the street, their pants half falling down, she’d point out the young dance students and the artists and talk about all their hard work and passion. And she’d be right.
Cayenne and Pepper and the others who work at the Spice Shop, they remind me that people really is good in their hearts. And when they cook good, too, why that makes me happy I’ve lived this long.
Now pass the Tabasco, would you kindly?
Killing Thyme is the third book in the Seattle Spice Shop mystery series, published by Penguin Random House, October 2016.
In Seattle’s Pike Place Market, Spice Shop owner Pepper Reece is savoring her business success, but soon finds her plans disrupted by a killer in the latest from the national bestselling author of Guilty as Cinnamon.
Pepper Reece’s to-do list is longer than the shopping list for a five-course dinner, as she conjures up spice blends bursting with seasonal flavor, soothes nervous brides fretting over the gift registry, and crosses her fingers for a rave review from a sharp-tongued food critic. Add to the mix a welcome visit from her mother, Lena, and she’s got the perfect recipe for a busy summer garnished with a dash of fun.
While browsing in the artists’ stalls, Pepper and Lena drool over stunning pottery made by a Market newcomer. But when Lena recognizes the potter, Bonnie Clay, as an old friend who disappeared years ago, the afternoon turns sour. To Pepper’s surprise, Bonnie seems intimately connected to her family’s past. After Bonnie is murdered only days later, Pepper is determined to uncover the truth. But as Pepper roots out long-buried secrets, will she be digging her own grave?
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About the author
Leslie Budewitz blends her passion for food, great mysteries, and the Northwest in two national best-selling series. Killing Thyme, her third Spice Shop Mystery, set in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, was released on October 4. Death Al Dente, first in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, set in Jewel Bay, Montana, won the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. The immediate past president of Sisters in Crime, she lives and cooks in NW Montana.
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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Killing Thyme. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends October 16, 2016 at 11:59 AM EST. Good luck everyone!