The Solace of Bay Leaves

spice shop mysteries

ISBN-13: 978-1645060178
Seventh St. Books/Tantor Audio
Available in paperback, e-book, and audio (October 20, 2020)

Available at:
Barnes & Noble
Indie Bound
And your local booksellers!

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.


“Savory,” says Publishers Weekly. “Budewitz’s affection for Seattle is apparent on every page.”

“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.

Pepper is “a grand amateur sleuth.” — Escapes with Dollycas

“This cozy mystery is a perfect mix of intrigue, neighborhood development schemes and a great collection of soup recipes.” — The Missoulian

“The Pike Place Market setting is always fascinating, and the tidbits about spices are fun. But, it’s the characters and relationships that will bring readers back. … Kudos to Pepper Reece for her ongoing introspection. Kudos to Leslie Budewitz for an intriguing amateur sleuth and a fascinating mystery. ” — Lesa’s Book Critiques

Solace also made reviewer and librarian Lesa Holstine’s list of Favorite Books of 2020

“Leslie Budewitz has written an absorbing page-turner that mystery fans will love.” — Suspense Magazine


Chapter One

Legend says that in the late 1950s, aspiring rocker Jimi Hendrix often met friends
in Seattle’s Pike Place Market and played late into the night,
on the steps in front of a passage called Ghost Alley.

“This is magic,” Nate whispered to me as the waiter poured our wine. “I can’t believe I’ve never been here.”

I smiled my thanks to the waiter. There are pockets of magic in every city, and since Nate and I got together a few months ago, we’d made a point of exploring them. The glow of new love adds its own magic to the mix, and we’d made a point of enjoying that, too. But this was our first evening at Jazz Alley.

Across the dark, gleaming table, Eric Gardiner raised his glass, catching a flicker of light. His wife Kristen, my BFF since before we were born, raised hers. Nate and I followed suit. “Cheers,” Eric said. “Great to finally have a Friday night out, the four of us.”

I heard my phone buzzing in the small beaded bag at my hip. I ignored it. No interruptions tonight. Besides, the Spice Shop was already closed. Nobody needed me for anything important.

“How you scored seats for the dinner show,” I said, “don’t even tell me. She always sells out the house.” Diane Schuur, one of Seattle’s best-loved musicians, wouldn’t take the stage until after plates were cleared, but the promise and the wine had already begun to work their spell.

“What looks good?” Nate scanned the menu. Fish scores high in Seattle restaurants, but as a commercial fisherman, Nate is picky about his pesce, not to mention his salmon, crab, and halibut.

“The crab or sole,” I mused, “and Key lime pie. I had it once in Florida and ever since, I’ve thought that’s what vacation tastes like.”

On the floor between us, Kristen’s phone buzzed in her purse. A flash of worry flitted across her face and she fished for the bag, then snuck a peek under the table. Cell phones were frowned upon here, with good reason. But they’d left their girls home alone, so I didn’t blame her.

She held it out for me to see. The text wasn’t from one of her young teenagers, bored or ticked off at the other. It was from our good friend, Laurel Halloran.

Detective Tracy is in my living room, I read. FBI on the way.

“The girls are fine,” Kristen told her husband, showing him the screen as she nudged him to slide over and let her out.

“It’s Laurel,” I told Nate. “Something’s up. Be right back.”

I followed Kristen down the hallway to the women’s room. Inside, we huddled in the corner and she made the call, her blond head next to my dark one, the phone between us. This was not a place, or a topic, for speaker phone.

“They have new evidence,” Laurel said, her voice barely a whisper. She lives on a houseboat on Lake Union, and short of closing herself in her own bathroom, there aren’t many places to hide. And like most cops, Detective Michael Tracy seemed to possess almost super-human hearing. “He won’t tell me what it is until the FBI agent gets here. What do I do?”

Kristen’s eyes met mine.

“Put the coffee on,” I said.

available at

Barnes and Noble
And your local booksellers!