About the Book
Genre: Cozy Mystery, #1 in A Pickled Preserved Mystery Series
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
Release Date: May 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads...
FIRST IN A NEW SERIES!
After her dreams of romance are crushed, Piper Lamb decides to pursue her dream of opening her own shop of pickles and preserves, called Piper’s Picklings, in the idyllic small town of Cloverdale. But she isn’t in town long before she encounters a barrelful of trouble…
The Cloverdale fair offers Piper a sweet opportunity to promote her business. With her new assistant, Amy, she sets up a booth centered around an eye-catching display of the ever-popular dills in an old-fashioned barrel of brine.
But things soon turn sour when fairgoers witness a fight between Amy’s boyfriend, Nate, and town council blowhard—and bagpipe player—Alan Rosemont. When Rosemont is found floating in Piper’s barrel, Nate becomes the prime murder suspect. With Amy’s boyfriend in a pretty pickle, there’s no time to dillydally. But as Piper searches for the real killer, she needs to be careful to preserve her own life…or she may end up a pickled Piper herself.
After Piper Lamb breaks off with her fiancé, she packs up and moves to the small town of Cloverdale, where her aunt and uncle live. Piper opens her own store, Piper’s Picklings, where she creates and sells her own pickles and preserves. Things are looking great as she even opens a booth at the Cloverdale Fair with her assistant Amy.
Then Amy’s boyfriend, Nate, gets into a shouting match with Alan Rosemont, a member of the town council and a man hated by most of the small town, and things begin to go downhill fast. When Rosemont’s dead body is stuffed into Piper’s pickle barrel, Nate is arrested for the crime. Amy is devastated and Piper promises to help. Neither of them believe a sweet musician like Nate is capable of murder.
As Piper investigates, she discovers that there’s a long list of people with a reason to want to see Rosemont dead. It doesn’t take long when Piper’s snooping leads to some really dangerous situations of her own. She’s determined to find the real killer before someone else turns up dead.
This book grabbed me right from the start. It combines mystery, a small town, and romance into one delightful cozy package. It’s fast-paced with characters that are well written and realistic. Piper seems like a neighbor we would all want to live near. There’s a possible romance with one of the locals and I’m looking forward to seeing where the next book takes us.
It’s the first book I’ve read by Mary Ellen Hughes, but won’t be my last.
For reading challenges:
2014 ARC Reading Challenge
2014 My Kind of Mystery Reading Challenge
2014 Foodies Reading Challenge
FTC Disclosure: The publisher provided me with a copy of this book to review for this blog tour. This did not influence my thoughts and opinions in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
Author Guest Post
My Less-than-likely Favorite Character
Mary Ellen Hughes
When writing a mystery, every author has a favorite character. It’s most often their protagonist—after all, the story centers around her, and she will appear in nearly every scene. I’m not terribly different in that respect. After all, the protagonist I created for The Pickled Piper, the first of my new Pickled and Preserved mystery series, is a woman I happen to like a lot. Piper Lamb has her struggles, but she deals with them. She’s not perfect (who could stand that?) but she’s got a lot going for her. So yes, Piper is a strong candidate for “my favorite character.”
But the one who beats her out—and has beat out protagonists in nearly all of my mysteries—is the victim.
I’ve nearly always made my victim a strongly dislikable person. The sole exception is the victim in Resort to Murder, who needed to be sweet and innocent. But all the others were pretty awful people—which, of course, made it that much easier to come up with plenty of suspects for their murder. After all, when you have a person who’s crossed swords with several people, perhaps blackmailed one or two, and was just plain nasty to everyone else, there’s no shortage of individuals who’d love to murder him—even if all but one kept that thought to mere wishing.
But beyond the convenience of producing many suspects, I just find a dastardly person so much fun to write. Actors love to play the bad guys because it gives them the chance to behave in ways they don’t get to in real life. It’s the same with authors. We like to think that the nicer people in our books have a little bit of ourselves (for some of us, a very little bit). But with our unlikeable victims, we can come up with witheringly snide remarks and dream up actions that get everyone’s blood pressure to boiling. We authors rarely get to do anything like that ourselves.
Of course, deep down our murderers are generally pretty nasty, too. But in a mystery, we need to hide our murderer’s true self until the end. Through 90 percent of the book, therefore, most of my murderers come across as lovely, likeable people, whereas my victim has been down right awful from the beginning. And even after he’s dead, the investigation digs up more shocking things about him.
Which is so much fun to write and why victims are my favorite characters—to a limit. Though I’d often like to be them, at least for a moment, I’d just as soon avoid the sort of ends that they come to.
But those ends can be so enjoyable to think up, too!
How would you like to win a paperback copy of The Pickled Piper by Mary Ellen Huges? Thanks to Berkley, I have one paperback to giveaway to one lucky winner.
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