Between a Wok and a Dead Place

Seventh Street Bks.: Prometheus. (A Spice Shop Mystery, Bk. 7). Jul. 2023. 236p. ISBN 9781645060611. pap. $17.95. M
Pepper Reece, owner of the Spice Shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, is enjoying the Year of the Rabbit parade and Chinese New Year food walk in Chinatown’s International District, until a friend begs for help. Roxanne Davidson, a museum curator, is working at the Gold Rush Hotel, a long-closed residential hotel, where she has found a body. Why was the dead man, dressed as a Chinese lion dancer, in the hotel’s hidden Chinese pharmacy? Although an older resident of the district warns Pepper to leave the past alone, she’s intrigued by the stories of the Chinese immigrants to Seattle, as well as the history of the hotel and the pharmacy. The amateur sleuth suspects Roxanne knows more than she’s telling, and her family relationship to Pepper’s boyfriend makes Pepper uneasy when the police suggest she ask him about Roxanne. If Pepper is to sate her curiosity, she’ll have to juggle her work at the Spice Shop, her training of new employees, and her research into Chinatown’s history.
VERDICT Budewitz’s follow-up to Peppermint Barked features recipes and a list of characters. The inclusion of Chinatown’s history, along with the stories of the culture and residents, adds a depth seldom found in cozy mysteries; see also Vivien Chien’s “Noodle Shop” mysteries.
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