Auntie M had the pleasure of meeting Leslie Budewitz at NE Crimebake recently. Leslie is the current President of Sisters in Crime, too, and has a wonderful sense of humor. Welcome her as she talks about what led to her new mystery, Guilty as Cinnamon, Book Two in her Spice Shop Mysteries.


In 1968, “Here Come the Brides” made TV stars of Bobby Sherman and David Soul—and the city of Seattle. Sherman, Soul, and Robert Brown (I admit, I had to look him up) play three brothers who run a logging company and import potential brides to keep their lumberjacks happy. It’s loosely based on the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and inspired by the real-life story of pioneer Asa Mercer and his “Mercer Girls.” I loved it. I even believed the theme song: “The bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle, and the hills the greenest green are in Seattle.”
Ten years later when I left Montana for Seattle University, my first few days on the campus were bright and sunny. And then, those famous rains began. About six months later, when the rain stopped and I was still there, I counted myself a true Seattleite. I’d learned. You pull on your rain coat, leave the umbrella your mother gave you in the closet, and go on doing whatever it is you want to do.
And when the sun comes out—well, those are the days the songwriter was talking about.
I remember watching Richard Dreyfus and Marsha Mason in The Goodbye Girl, in a huge theater in downtown Seattle. Dreyfus is packing for a trip to Seattle, where he’s been promised a part in a play. He’ll be back, he promises, and she struggles to believe him. “Do you know they have wolves out there?” he asks, and the whole theater erupted in howls of laughter.
I’d already moved back to Montana when Sleepless in Seattle came out in 1993. Tom Hanks’ houseboat, right? That’s what you remember about Seattle: the gigantic glass windows, the dark, shimmering lake waters, the sparkling lights. And the wonderful connection between Hanks and Meg Ryan, and the cute kid, and all the romantic comedy repartee that makes us feel warm and fuzzy.
These images and more—the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, Mount Rainier, the Seahawks’ offensive line—scrolled through my mind as I created Seattle on the page in my Spice Shop Mysteries. These are the pictures readers who’ve never lived in the Northwest hold of the Emerald City. They’re iconic. They provide a framework for how we view the place, much as the Empire State Building, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and Central Park pop into mind when we picture New York City.

Cities are so much more, of course, but I loved calling on those images and the fond memories they evoke when picturing Pepper, my main character, and her friends and staff going about their days under blue skies and gray. Her friend Laurel’s houseboat isn’t Tom Hanks’ houseboat, but I hope a reader who remembers the movie will smile in recognition when the Flick Chicks gather on the roof for dinner, then settle in to the cozy sunken living room to watch a movie. I hope they’ll think of Richard Dreyfus worrying about wolves, and remember that while Seattle is urban, it’s also nestled between wild waters and wild mountains. And I hope they’ll think of those blue skies and white peaks, those green trees and steep hills, when they follow Pepper through the Market to Pioneer Square and back again.

Because a city comes alive on the page when the author creates a place we can see and feel, and our memories of a place—whether we’ve been there or not—are part of the equation.

Do you have a fond memory of Seattle—on the page, the screen, or on a visit?

GUILTY AS CINNAMON (Spice Shop Mystery #2, December 1, Berkley Prime Crime)
Pepper Reece knows that fiery flavors are the spice of life. But when a customer dies of a chili overdose, she finds herself in hot pursuit of a murderer…

From the cover …

Murder heats up Seattle’s Pike Place Market in the next Spice Shop mystery from the national bestselling author of Assault and Pepper.

Springtime in Seattle’s Pike Place Market means tasty foods and wide-eyed tourists, and Pepper’s Seattle Spice Shop is ready for the crowds. With flavorful combinations and a fresh approach, she’s sure to win over the public. Even better, she’s working with several local restaurants as their chief herb and spice supplier. Business is cooking, until one of Pepper’s potential clients, a young chef named Tamara Langston, is found dead, her life extinguished by the dangerously hot ghost chili—a spice Pepper carries in her shop.

Now stuck in the middle of a heated police investigation, Pepper must use all her senses to find out who wanted to keep Tamara’s new café from opening—before someone else gets burned…


Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. She fell in love with the Pike Place Market as a college student in Seattle, and still makes regular pilgrimages. The president of Sisters in Crime, 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. Connect with her through her website and blog,, or on Facebook,

Series: Spice Shop Mysteries (Book 2)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley (December 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 042527179X
ISBN-13: 978-0425271797