A spice shop owner teams up with her BFF to clear a friend suspected of murder in the lead-up to the local Barbecue Festival.
The annual Brandywine Creek Barbecue Festival brings the heat of competition to the small Georgia town and a fair amount of foot traffic into Piper Prescott’s boutique, Spice It Up!. Though Piper’s glad for the business, she’s not so glad the festival seems to have attracted former resident Barbara Bunker Quinlan, aka Barbie Q. Piper gets a funny feeling every time she sees Barbie with Police Chief Wyatt McBride, even though Piper’s settled in with her boyfriend and McBride’s known her only as trouble since their last interaction, which involved Piper’s unofficial and unwelcome investigation of a murder (Rosemary and Crime, 2013). Nor is Piper the only one unhappy that Barbie is in town. Becca Dapkins nearly gets into a fight with Barbie in Piper’s shop. Piper’s not sure who she would have rooted for if she’d been there because Becca has stolen Buzz, Piper’s friend Maybelle’s boyfriend of 13 years. While she’s out for an evening constitutional, Piper’s pup, Casey, leads her to Becca, who seems to have been bludgeoned by a brisket. To save Maybelle from suspicion, Piper and her best bud, Reba Mae, resolve to find the killer, though everyone seems to have had a motive for killing someone as bristly as Becca.
Serving up another seasoning-themed cozy complete with a guide to peppers and a rub recipe, Oust excels when she concentrates on her leading lady’s friendships and other relationships, even though a little more spice would up the ante.