The Solace of Bay Leaves — paperback launch day!

Cheers for the paperback of THE SOLACE OF BAY LEAVES!  

I promise, it’s true. There’s a BIG box of them in my upstairs hallway!

In this strange year, ebook and audio lovers got their copies early, last July. Though I hated that some of you had to wait for the paperback, I am enormously grateful that my publisher was able to get those versions out as scheduled, and that it made the right call to wait so the paperback could get to you safely and smoothly.

Pepper is celebrating her second anniversary at the Spice Shop, but her friend Laurel is honoring a more somber anniversary, the still-unsolved murder of her husband, three years ago. When evidence links the murder to a friend’s shooting, Pepper’s own regrets surface. Can she uncover the truth and protect those she loves, before the deadly danger boils over? 

I love this book. I know, I say that every time—and it’s always true—but SOLACE is special. It’s all about women’s friendships—how they lift us up and evolve over time, how they bounce back from jealousies and misunderstandings. It’s about new love after forty, about home and the importance of our neighborhoods and communities. About identity. About solace and comfort, and soup. 

All the things we’ve learned to value even more these last few months. 

There’s a saying that each book teaches you how to write it, and that’s never been more true for me than with this one. (Well, okay, maybe with BITTERROOT LAKE, out next April, too.) I was so sure I knew what this one was about. Boy, was I wrong. I thought Maddie was a minor character—when you meet her, you’ll see how impossible that was! I can still see myself walking into a gathering of my lovely women’s group in July 2019, mid book, completely freaked out. They talked me down, and the very next day, I discovered what the book was really about.

That’s why SOLACE is dedicated to those eight brave, creative, inspiring women. 

No book travel this fall—we’ll make up for lost time next year. But I will be celebrating safely at the Bigfork Art & Cultural Center this Saturday at 3:00 pm for a socially-distanced book talk and signing. If you’re in the area, do join us. 

I’ll also be visiting several blogs to talk about how audio books influenced my writing, the urban cozy, writing a series, ghost signs, and more. (I’ll share links on my Facebook Author page.) Swing by for a virtual chat.  

And when you finish reading, I hope you’ll want to tell your friends about the book. My website includes discussion questions for all my novels.  

I’ll confess, I stay away from Pinterest as much as possible because it’s so darned addictive. If you love the visual as much as I do, take a look at my Spice Shop board–-I’ve updated it with some of the images that inspired SOLACE

My thanks, as always, for joining me on this writing journey. I literally could not do it without you!

From my heart,
Leslie 

In Western Montana, my books are available in Whitefish at Bookworks, in Kalispell at The Bookshelf and Montana Art & Gift (at the airport), in Bigfork at Roma’s Kitchen Shop and Bigfork Art & Cultural Center (Bigfork ), and in Missoula at Fact & Fiction, Shakespeare & Co., and Barnes & Noble. And of course, they’re available online and at independent bookstores across the US and Canada.

Praise for SOLACE and the Spice Shop Mysteries:  

Audiobook cover

A “complex, well-developed mystery. … VERDICT The character-driven mystery by the award-winning author of Death al Dente is darker than many cozies. Readers attracted to unusual settings and mature, introspective amateur sleuths will appreciate this intricately plotted story depicting the impact of murder on the family and community.” — Library Journal, in a starred review

Publishers’ Weekly called SOLACE “savory.” Isn’t that delish? “Budewitz’s affection for Seattle is apparent on every page. Foodie mystery aficionados will love the mouthwatering recipes at the end.”  

“Budewitz continues to whet the appetites of her readers while also highlighting the many unique characteristics of Seattle. … Full of humor and delicious descriptions of local cuisine, ASSAULT AND PEPPER isn’t afraid to tackle timely social topics and the complexities of family, responsibilities, and learning to let go.” —Kings River Life 

“[C]lassic “Golden Age” … set in contemporary Seattle.” — PJ Coldren

Read an excerpt from THE SOLACE OF BAY LEAVES.  

Pepper’s Shopping List: Ten Spices for Every Kitchen Cupboard

Any cook can tell you how easy it is to overstock the spice cabinet! You try a new-to-you recipe and buy an ounce of this and a pinch of that, but what do you do with the rest of the jar? Well, search a good cookbook or online recipe source for more options.

But if you’re stocking a new kitchen, or you want to pare down to basics, here’s Pepper’s list of essential dried spices. (Okay, it’s mine, but we’ll pretend she isn’t fictional for a few minutes.)

Of course, your preference and how you like to eat play a big part. If you enjoy Mexican dishes, add more peppers and some dried cilantro. If you eat a lot of Italian, add rosemary. If you love making soups and stews, you need bay leaves.

And of course, blends are a great way to add a lot of flavor in a hurry.

In alphabetical order:
Basil
Chili Powder
Cinnamon (ground, but sticks are great, too)
Cumin
Ginger
Nutmeg
Oregano
Paprika (sweet or spicy; smoked is a fave in our house)
Red Pepper Flakes
Thyme

Plus a good sea salt* and black peppercorns and a grinder.

assault and pepper

What’s the difference between sea salt and table salt? Sea salt is formed by evaporation of ocean or lake water, with minimal processing, while table salt comes from underground salt deposits. (“I’m going to the salt mine,” my father used to say before descending to his basement office.) Each has a different crystal structure. In addition, most commercial table salts also include iodine, which before the early 20th century, was often difficult to get in a diet, particularly for Midwesterners. That’s no longer the case, with changes in how we eat and where our food comes from. Table salt can oxidize to form iodine, and give food an acrid flavor.

If you bake, you’ll want kosher salt, so named because it’s used to draw out water in the koshering process. It’s got a coarser structure than sea or table salt, and is particularly good for baking. I have read that professional bakers prefer Diamond Crystal over Morton’s, that lab tests have shown it to be more consistent in structure and therefore salinity, and that most recipes are written expecting the cook to use Diamond Crystal. So that’s what Pepper and I do!

Why didn’t I mention garlic? Because you should use fresh when you can, though the chopped garlic in a jar is a lifesaver, as is jarred ground ginger. But dried minced garlic and garlic powder have a place, too, unless you’ve got a super-small kitchen!

Pepper’s Bookshelf — The Solace of Bay Leaves

Pepper Reece loves a good mystery — on the page, or in real life! She also enjoys selling culinary cozies along with the cookbooks and chef lit on the shelves in the Spice Shop, the shop she owns in Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market. So when Assault and Pepper came out and a reader asked for Pepper’s reading list, I was happy to oblige. Here’s Part One and Part Two.

In The Solace of Bay Leaves (out in ebook and audio on July 21, 2020 and in paper on October 20), Pepper once again mentions her love of the Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters, triggered by the discovery of a book of the books and videos among the things her parents stored with her before decamping to Costa Rica. Sadly, the Seattle Mystery Bookshop is closed in real life, but I’ve kept it alive on the page, and Pepper credits a former law firm staffer now working there for feeding her love of medieval mysteries with the Sister Fidelma mysteries by Peter Tremayne and the Dame Frevisse mysteries by Margaret Frazer. She’s also enjoying the Crispin Guest Medieval Mysteries by Jeri Westerson, which she discovered herself, and is just finishing the first, Veil of Lies.

Another series she’s recently discovered, through her friend, Seetha, are the Perveen Mistry series by Sujata Massey, set in 1920s India and featuring the first woman solicitor in Bombay. The series starts with The Widows of Malabar Hill and continues with The Satapur Moonstone. When Pepper visits Maddie in the hospital, she takes her two UK historicals, In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen and the latest in the Dandy Gilver series by Catriona McPherson.

Pepper also mentions Drinking French, a new cookbook from David Lebovitz, an American living in Paris, and new foodie mysteries from Cleo Coyle, Laura Childs, and Vicki Delany.

And the book about the Armenian genocide that she remembers reading in high school is the much-acclaimed Passage to Ararat by Michael J. Arlen, originally published in 1975.

PS: Looks like I may not have done a post on Pepper’s Bookshelf for CHAI ANOTHER DAY. Here’s what she was reading there:

— Spice: The History of a Temptation by Jack Turner

Soul of the City: The Pike Place Public Market, by Alice Shorett and Murray Morgan

A Rare Benedictine by Ellis Peters, a trio of Brother Cadfael short stories

Murder in Union Square, Victoria Thompson, the Gaslight Mysteries

— Edith Maxwell’s Quaker midwife mysteries

— The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating, by Steven Kerry Brown

— The latest culinary mysteries by Barbara Ross, Ellie Alexander, Cleo Coyle, and Lucy Burdette

The Solace of Bay Leaves is out today!

From the cover: Pepper Reece never expected to find solace in bay leaves.

But when her life fell apart at forty and she bought the venerable-but-rundown Spice Shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, her days took a tasty turn. Now she’s savoring the prospect of a flavorful fall and a busy holiday cooking season, until danger bubbles to the surface …

Between managing her shop, worrying about her staff, and navigating a delicious new relationship, Pepper’s firing on all burners. But when her childhood friend Maddie is shot and gravely wounded, the incident is quickly tied to an unsolved murder that left another close friend a widow.

Convinced that the secret to both crimes lies in the history of a once-beloved building, Pepper uses her local-girl contacts and her talent for asking questions to unearth startling links between the past and present—links that suggest her childhood friend may not have been the Golden Girl she appeared to be. Pepper is forced to face her own regrets and unsavory emotions, if she wants to save Maddie’s life—and her own.

Audio book cover

Ebook and Audio: June 21, 2020
Trade paper: October 20, 2020

Published by Seventh Street Books and Tantor Audio

Available in the US and Canada at:
IndieBound
Barnes and Noble
Amazon
Fact and Fiction
Books-A-Million
Bookshop.org
And your local booksellers!

Enjoy the trip to Seattle with me — on the page or screen, or through your headphones!

The Solace of Bay Leaves is coming soon!

THE SOLACE OF BAY LEAVES is on the way.

And gosh, we could all use a little solace right now, couldn’t we?

The ebook and audio will be out July 21, the paperback on October 20, but you can pre-order them now in all the usual places. Pop over to my website for an excerpt and buy links. And if you’re a library user, please ask your library to order the book — most libraries have request forms on their websites, and they want to know what patrons want to read.

The fifth Spice Shop mystery bears a more poetic title than its older siblings. Pepper likes to say that when her life fell apart, she never expected to find solace in bay leaves. Meaning that she never expected to buy a spice shop—or that it would be one of the best decisions she ever made.

THE SOLACE OF BAY LEAVES explores women’s friendships, a major theme of the series. Just as Pepper and Kristen’s friendship was tested in KILLING THYME, here we see how misunderstandings and jealousies affect other long-standing friendships, and how Pepper’s passion for justice makes her the very best kind of friend. Once again, we explore the Market, Seattle’s heart, soul, and stomach. Pepper also takes us up to Capitol Hill and the Montlake neighborhood, places where I lived, walked, and ate as a young woman. And we see her and her fisherman draw closer, as they learn to navigate the here again–gone again schedule his work dictates.

I think it’s a special book, and hope you’ll agree.

Why the paperback delay? Blame the virus. It’s jumbled so many plans, and book launches are no exception. In March, my publisher, Seventh St. Books, realized that disruptions in the supply chain meant it couldn’t guarantee that the paperback would be in warehouses, libraries, and bookstores by July 21, so the paperback launch was moved to October 20. But they didn’t want to make you wait for a little SOLACE, so they stuck to the original date for the ebook and audio. It’s not safe to get together in person now; let’s hope by then, we can meet for a book talk and a cup of chai.

Don’t worry, I’ll remind you when the paperback comes out! Remember, though, that you can pre-order it from your local booksellers or online now. As a friend says, pre-orders are great because you don’t have to give it another thought—the book just shows up, like a present you’ve given yourself!

I’ve been surprised how many readers have told me they’ll grab the e-book now and the paperback in the fall. See how wonderful and generous you are? Cozy mystery fans truly are the best. And in this oh-so-difficult time, I am grateful for every one of you.

My booth at the 2019 Bigfork Festival of the Arts

Whenever you read the book, in whatever format, please do post a review online, at Amazon, B&N.com, Bookbub, Goodreads, bookblogs, Facebook, Twitter, Insta—so many options. Word of mouth, even if it’s digital, is simply the best.

To authors, an audio book deal feels like a sign you’ve arrived. I’m lucky that all my mysteries are in audio, and luckier still that the Spice Shop mysteries are narrated by the fabulous Dara Rosenberg. I finally got a smart phone and recorded myself pronouncing a few Northwest tribal names and other local tongue-twisters for her. She’s so smart and prepared – I hope you love listening to her as much as I love working with her.

Audio book cover

In keeping with the bay leaves, my characters eat a lot of soup and the recipes are in the book. It’s not exactly soup weather, though, so in July and August, I’ll share some warm-weather uses of bay on Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen (I post on the 1st, 3d, and 5th Tuesdays) and get to the soup in October.

It’s beyond strange to launch a book without meeting readers face to face, and I don’t like it one bit. YOU make a book real. But we will meet again.

Until then, happy reading. Be well,

Leslie

Pepper’s Book Shelf — What’s the Mistress of Spice reading now?

In CHAI ANOTHER DAY, the latest Spice Shop mystery, Pepper doesn’t have as much time for reading as in the earlier installments. But she does love a good mystery, and she’s got a few other new faves, as well.

Here’s the link to earlier installments of Pepper’s Book Self, filled with recommendations for her favorite foodie mysteries and historical mysteries, along with a few cookbooks and spice references.

In CHAI, Pepper is still working on the food education of Matt Kemp, one of her new hires, and gives him a copy of Spice: The History of a Temptation by Jack Turner, her  go-to guide on the history of spice and its role in the global economy. She also gives him a terrific history of Pike Place Market, and Soul of the City, by Alice Shorett and Murray Morgan.

She’s been saving the last few Brother Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters, and finally dips into A Rare Benedictine, a trio of Cadfael short stories. She’s tempted by Murder in Union Square, the latest in Victoria Thompson’s Gaslight Mysteries, set in turn-of-the-last-century New York, and Turning the Tide, one of the adventures of Edith Maxwell’s Quaker midwife sleuth.

And of course, she once again consults The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating, by Steven Kerry Brown.

Some of the new culinary mysteries she and the Spice Shop crew are excited about: books by Barbara Ross, Ellie Alexander, Cleo Coyle, and Lucy Burdette.

Happy reading — and happy eating!

 

Book Launch News — Chai Another Day

lleslie budewitz chai another dayFinally, it’s time to CHAI ANOTHER DAY! The fourth Seattle Spice shop mystery is out today, in trade paper and ebook, from Seventh St. Books. (The audio is coming August 6th.)

From the cover: 

Seattle Spice Shop owner Pepper Reece probes murder while juggling a troubled employee, her mother’s house hunt, and a fisherman who’s set his hook for her.

As owner of the Spice Shop in Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market, Pepper Reece is always on the go. Between conjuring up new spice blends and serving iced spice tea to customers looking to beat the summer heat, she finally takes a break for a massage. But the Zen moment is shattered when she overhears an argument in her friend Aimee’s vintage home decor shop that ends in murder.

Wracked by guilt over her failure to intervene, Pepper investigates, only to discover a web of deadly connections that could ensnare a friend – and Pepper herself.

*** As many of you know, it’s been a while since the third in the series, KILLING THYME, came out. I’m enormously pleased to have a new publisher — and as much in love with Arf the dog, on the cover, as ever! This is my tenth book and ninth novel, which is a bit mind-blowing, and I’m grateful to all of you who’ve waited patiently for this installment. As long as you keep reading, I’ll keep writing! Deal?

What’s on Pepper’s bookshelf in Killing Thyme?

IMGP3441In ASSAULT AND PEPPER, the first Spice Shop mystery, Pepper discovers the joys of the Brother Cadfael mysteries by the late, great Ellis Peters. In later books, she dives into the Dame Frevisse mysteries by Margaret Frazer—one of my very favorites—and the Sister Fidelma mysteries by Peter Tremaine.

In KILLING THYME, just released on October 4, 2016, Pepper’s mother, Lena, visits and introduces her to several newer historical mysteries series. As Lena says, “Now you know why I love historicals. Life could be harsh, and people haven’t changed a whole lot. But reality is easier to take when it’s dressed in period clothing.”

KillingThyme_FC.inddOf course, Pepper’s Seattle Spice Shop carries a wide range of cookbooks and food fiction. Readers have asked me for a list of the books Pepper mentions. Here’s Part One.

And here’s what’s on Pepper’s bookshelf in KILLING THYME:

Rhys Bowen, the Molly Murphy Mysteries, including Murphy’s Law and Death of Riley

Victoria Thompson, the Gaslight Mysteries, including Murder on Amsterdam Avenue and Murder in Morningside Heights

Daryl Wood Gerber aka Avery Aames, the Cheese Shop Mysteries and the Cookbook Nook Mysteries

World Spice at Home: New Flavors for 75 Favorite Dishes by World Spice Merchants owner Amanda Bevill and Julie Kramis Hearne

Essays by the late novelist and food writer Laurie Colwin and the late food writer MFK Fisher

Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War, by Annia Ciezadlo, a tour of Middle Eastern food during the wars in Iraq and Lebanon

Laura Childs, the Teashop Mysteries, Gunpowder Green

Krista Davis, the Domestic Diva Mysteries, The Diva Runs Out of Thyme

Happy reading and eating!

 

E-book sale on Assault & Pepper!

assault and pepper

Great news for readers who prefer to start a series at the beginning, or who haven’t yet taken the trip to Seattle with me! The e-book version of ASSAULT & PEPPER, first in my Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries, is on sale for 1.99 at Amazon,KillingThyme_FC.indd B&N.com, and Kobo!

Not sure how long this bargain will last — but I can tell you the fun continues this fall with the third installment, KILLING THYME, to be released in paper, ebook, AND audio on October 4!

Update: For those of you who love reading on paper, there’s also a price reduction on the 2d book in the series, GUILTY AS CINNAMON! 

What book is that again? Pepper’s bookshelf

IMGP1761Like me, Pepper, the main character in my Seattle Spice Shop series, is a mystery reader. She often mentions books she’s reading. One of her updates to the Spice Shop has been to expand the book section, adding more cookbooks, memoirs and chef lit, and even foodie fiction. When Pepper drops into the Seattle Mystery Bookshop (a real place), to consult with Jen, a former paralegal who now sells books, Jen gives her several recommendations.

By reader request, here’s Pepper’s reading list:

assault and pepperPepper’s bookshelf, in ASSAULT & PEPPER:
Salt, Mark Kurlansky
Salted, Mark Bitterman
Skippyjon Jones: Lost in SpiceJudith Schachner

Pepper learns a lot about herbs and investigating from Brother Cadfael, created by Ellis Peters, reading A Morbid Taste for Bones, One Corpse Too Many, and Monk’s Hood, as well as the Cadfael Companion, Ellis Peters and Robin Whiteman, and Brother Cadfael’s Herb Garden, Rob Talbot and Robin Whiteman.

The Spice Shop also carries the Teashop Mysteries by Laura Child, the Domestic Diva Mysteries by Krista Davis, the Coffeehouse Mysteries by Cleo Coyle, and Key West Food Critic Mysteries by Lucy Burdette. Jen recommends a reader traveling to Erin consider Sheila Connolly’s County Cork series, Erin Hart’s archaeological mysteries, and when Pepper nears the end of the Cadfael series, Jen suggests the Sister Frevisse mysteries by Margaret Frazer and Sister Fidelma mysteries by Peter Tremayne.

Guilty as CinnamonPepper’s faves in GUILTY AS CINNAMON:
In her second outing, Pepper is celebrating cinnamon, and displays several mysteries in the shop: Cinnamon Skin, John D. MacDonald, Cinnamon Kiss, Walter Mosley, and The Cinnamon Roll Murder by Joanne Fluke.

She draws inspiration from The Servant’s Tale and The Outlaw’s Tale by Margaret Frazer. Her friend Callie, a law librarian and avid baker, drools over a cookbook called Sugar Rush.

And after she’s solved the crimes, Pepper’s staff gives her a copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating, by Steven Kerry Brown. What, they couldn’t have given it her before she found—nevermind. No spoilers here!

In GUILTY AS CINNAMON, Pepper also discovers music by the Portland Cello Project.