My delighted today to welcome author Leslie Budewitz to Thoughts in Progress to talk about ASSAULT AND PEPPER, first installment in her new Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries series from Berkley Prime Crime.
Leslie is joining us today to talk about an experience we’ve all had at one time or another. In addition, thanks to Leslie and the lovely Danielle at Penguin Group, I have a print copy of ASSAULT AND PEPPER to giveaway after I share my thoughts on this fun new release. Please see the end of the post for more giveaway details.
Now, please join me in giving Leslie a warm welcome to Thoughts. Welcome, Leslie. Tell us what the nose knows.
You’re sitting in a classroom—or a conference room, or a darkened theater—and all of a sudden, you find yourself thinking about your college boyfriend. You think Good heavens, I haven’t thought of him in years, but you look around anyway, more than half expecting to see him. The new arrival notices your puzzlement and you mention that you thought you smelled a familiar cologne. “Oh, Grey Flannel by Geoffrey Beene,” he says. “I’ve worn it for years.” And you think, that’s it—that was his cologne, too.
It’s an experience we’ve all had. As Pepper Reece, the protagonist of ASSAULT AND PEPPER puts it,
“My staff turned thoughtful, summoning their own ideas of fall. They say the sense of smell is the most intimately linked of all our senses to memory, and I believe it. One whiff of a familiar scent, even one we haven’t encountered in years, can transport us to a time and place long forgotten, even before we consciously recall the memory.”
The smell triggers the feeling of being back in the past—in that place, with that companion. It’s called olfactory memory, and it’s very real. Scientists believe that the olfactory nerve—the one responsible for our sense of smell—was one of the first cranial nerves to develop, perhaps because the sense of smell is critical to personal safety, especially in those early days of homo sapiens. I suspect that primacy may explain why we often make the jump—we look around for the old boyfriend—before consciously noticing the triggering scent.
Smell, of course, is an essential part of cooking and eating. It’s a safeguard—we smell the rotten meat or deadly berry, or the moldy cottage cheese, and know it’s dangerous. It’s a clue that the food is ready to eat—a ripe cantaloupe has a distinctive aroma, as does the perfectly grilled steak. And we all know the acrid odor of a pot left on the stove too long!
Smell is inviting. Real estate agents often tell their clients to bake cookies or light a scented candle before a showing, to evoke the sense of home.
Would we enjoy eating so much if not for the aromas? The senses of taste and smell are closely linked. There is probably not a functional nose on the planet that doesn’t perk up at the smell of bread baking. The mouth waters and the tummy starts to rumble as the digestive juices get ready to go to work. Many a spouse has been drawn out of bed by the aroma of coffee brewing, those tiny molecules more powerful than the thought of more sleep. And I don’t know about you, but one whiff of a brownie and I’m starving, even if I’d just sworn I wasn’t hungry.
People who lose their sense of smell often lose interest in food. Conversely, an old adage says “Beware of the old cook”—a worn or overused sense of smell can lead to a heavy hand with spices.
And for readers like us, the aroma of a favorite tea—the smoky-bergamot of Earl Gray or the citrus and cinnamon of Pepper’s Seattle Spice Shop tea—sets the mood for a good long read.
Have you had the experience of being transported by an aroma? Do tell!
Leslie, thanks so much for joining us today. The sense of smell does play such a large part in our daily lives even though we sometimes take it for granted.
Here’s a brief description of ASSAULT AND PEPPER from the cover:
Pepper Reece, owner of the Seattle Spice Shop, thinks she can handle any kind of salty customer—until a murderer ends up in the mix…
After leaving a dicey marriage and losing a beloved job in a corporate crash, Pepper Reece has found a new zest for life running a busy spice and tea shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Her aromatic creations are the talk of the town, and everyone stops by for a cup of her refreshing spice tea, even other shopkeepers and Market regulars.
But when a panhandler named Doc shows up dead on her doorstep, a Seattle Spice Shop cup in his hand, the local gossip gets too hot for Pepper to handle—especially after the police arrest Tory Finch, one of Pepper’s staffers, for murder.
Tory seems to know why she’s a suspect, but she refuses to do anything to curry favor with the cops. Convinced her reticent employee is innocent, Pepper takes it on herself to sniff out some clues. Only, if she’s not careful, Pepper’s nosy ways might make her next on the killer’s list…
INCLUDES DELICIOUS RECIPES!
Here’s also a bit of background on Leslie for those who aren’t familiar with her.
Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Spice Shop Mysteries and the Food Lovers Village Mysteries, both from Berkley Prime Crime. She is the only author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction—the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel, for Death al Dente and the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction, for Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law & Courtroom Procedure (Quill Driver Books).
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.
For more on Leslie and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
Now for my thoughts on this entertaining new mystery….
Budewitz’s eye for detail and vivid descriptions places the reader in the middle of the area where you can practically smell the aromas and hear the activities bustling about. She keeps the story at a steady pace with twists and turns to hold you captivate until the end.
The protagonist, Pepper Reece, is a well-developed, likable character that has realistic traits readers can relate to. The protagonist is strong and determined with a soft side for her friends. The secondary characters are varied and engaging adding depth to the story.
Highlighted with facts and quotes at the beginning of each chapter, ASSAULT AND PEPPER is a delightful start to what promises to be a charming series readers will eagerly look forward to revisiting time and time again.
Assault and Pepper by Leslie Budewitz, Seattle Spice Shop Mystery Book #1, Berkley, @2015, ISBN: 978-0425271780, Mas Market Paperback, 304 Pages
FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.
This giveaway is for one print copy of ASSAULT AND PEPPER. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end at 12 a.m. on Monday, March 23.
To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient. The winner from this giveaway will have 72 hours to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. The email will have ‘Thoughts in Progress Leslie Budewitz’s Tour’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).
Thanks so much for stopping by during Leslie’s visit. Remember what Leslie asked, “Have you had the experience of being transported by an aroma? Do tell!”
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