Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Review: License to Dill by Mary Ellen Hughes

License to Dill
Author:  Mary Ellen Hughes
Series:  A Pickled & Preserved Mystery 2
Publisher:  Berkley, February 3, 2015
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780425262467 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

From the author of The Pickled Piper comes another Pickled and Preserved Mystery…

Piper Lamb knows how to make fruits and vegetables keep for months. Unfortunately, it’s the people around her who are expiring too soon…

After her fiancé left her, Piper came to Cloverdale to rebuild her life and open up her shop, Piper’s Picklings, to sell pickles and preserves. When her ex decides to drop in for a visit—just as things are heating up between her and a local Christmas tree farmer—Piper finds herself in a jam.
But there are other visitors to worry about…

An Italian soccer team is set to play the Cloverdale All-Stars in an exhibition game. Their manager, Raffaele Conti, was a bitter rival of Piper’s dill supplier, local farmer Gerald Standley. After Conti is found dead in Standley’s field, Piper must work to clear Gerald’s name and find out who relished killing Raffaele before the town is soured by another death.


Jennifer's Review

The second installment of the Pickled & Preserved Mystery series by Mary Ellen Hughes is entitled License to Dill and follows Piper Lamb, owner of a fairly new pickling shop in small town Cloverdale, New York. Piper, who spent her summers in Cloverdale with her aunt and uncle while her archaeologist parents toured the world, has recently returned to the idyllic town after ending her longtime engagement. She envisions a quiet life of selling pickling spices and supplies and canning any fruit or vegetable she can get her hands on. Unfortunately, Piper’s quiet life is interrupted not only by the arrival of her ex-fiancée, Scott Littleton, but also by the brazen murder of Raffaele Conti, an Italian soccer team owner in town for an exhibition match.

The author takes her time setting up the mystery in this novel. She spends a great deal of time establishing the characters and their past and present relationships before delving into the murder. The reader gets to know Piper, who is very laid back on the surface, but does harbor a jumble of emotions, especially regarding her feelings for new beau, Will Burchett, and her ex, Scott. Will is also given a decidedly laid back attitude, although that is tested by Scott’s obvious interest in rekindling his romance with Piper. Scott is a bit of an annoying guy, he is obviously smart, handsome and successful, yet he blatantly follows Piper around, going so far as buying property and setting up a law business in town, even after she repeatedly informs him that they are going to be nothing but friends. He does not really appeal to me as a romantic character, but perhaps he will fill out more in future novels, as he is definitely intent on staying in Cloverdale and in Piper’s life. Piper’s shop assistant, Amy, is giving less print time in this installment as it isn’t her boyfriend who is accused of murder as he was in the first novel, but she is still a fun character. Piper’s adorable aunt and uncle feature a bit more due to the fact that the prime suspect in the murder is their friend, Gerald Standley, a lifelong town resident and supplier to Piper of fresh grown dill, which is crucial to her canning and pickling projects. Piper gets involved in the mystery at the request of Gerald’s daughter, Miranda. There are also a handful of townspeople who make larger appreances and add to the charm of the whole novel.

The mystery doesn’t come into the storyline right away, although the characters involved are nicely set-up during the events leading up to the murder. Conti is given an interesting back story before his untimely demise in Gerald Standley’s dill fields. He was once an exchange student in Cloverdale and was universally disliked by his high school soccer teammates, who most notably include Gerald. The mystery itself is foreshadowed and unfolds well; however, I do feel that the characters tend to go over the same suspects over and over again, which gets a little tedious by the novel’s end. One element that did appeal to me though, was that the main character did not discover the body of the murder victim, as is so often the case in this genre. Piper is not inclined to investigate the crime because she is in the middle of it or even because she is a suspect, she looks into it because of her belief in Gerald’s innocence and is recruited by Miranda due to the fact she successfully solved the murder that occurred in the first novel of the series. I am curious to see if the author will do something similar in the next installment regarding the murder and am hoping that Scott’s character develops into a more viable romantic foil to Will, so that the triangle between the two men and Piper can be explored in more depth and given more realism. I am also looking forward to seeing what recipes will be included in the next book. I haven’t tried any of the ones from either of the books, but they all look delicious.

You may see a Guest Blog by Mary Ellen Hughes here and enter to win a copy of License to Dill. The Giveaway is included here again for your convenience. Please note that if you've already entered you will not be able to enter again at this post.

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of License to Dill by Mary Ellen Hughes from the publisher. US ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on February21 , 2015. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*

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1 comment:

  1. I love pickles of all types---and a good cozy, too. I'd love to read this book.