Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Book Review: The Pickled Piper by Mary Ellen Hughes (Pickled and Preserved Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great characters, good overall plotting
Cons: The plot's pace was a bit off at times.
The Bottom Line:
A pickled cozy
Characters already strong
I'll be back for more

Body in the Pickle Barrel

I must admit, I probably never would have picked up The Pickled Piper if author Mary Ellen Hughes hadn't offered me an ARC of the book.  I'm struggling with enough new series I want to try, I'm being very selective in the new ones I do buy.  But I'm glad I decided to take her up on her offer because this was a fun book.

Piper Lamb has settled into the town of Cloverdale, New York and opened a new pickling and preserving store.  What better way to help spread the word than to set up a booth at the fair in town, right?

Unfortunately, Piper gets more publicity than she bargained for when, on the second day of the fair, a man is found floating in her pickle barrel.  Even worse, a friend becomes the chief suspect since he had a very public fight with the victim the day before.  Can Piper find the real killer?

While I know I just mentioned Piper by name above, the book is actually filled with a bunch of charming characters.  There's Amy and her boyfriend Nate; Will, who owns the Christmas tree farm outside of town; and Piper's aunt and uncle for starters.  They felt real to me already, and I can't wait to spend more time with them in the future.  The suspect characters aren't quite as well developed, but they are developed enough to make us care about the outcome.

The plot did seem to slow down at times, and we'd get a couple of scenes in a row rehashing suspects without adding too much new.  However, when it all comes together at the end, the clues and red herrings are all present and explained perfectly.  I liked the fact that Piper and her friends worked together to solve the crime, although Piper did put the pieces together herself in the end.

The book is obviously setting things up for a romantic triangle that will really heat up in the next book.  I'm actually rather curious to see how that aspect plays out, but I'm not saying any more to avoid spoilers.  I don't see it playing out like it typically does in a cozy series, which is a nice change of pace.

When I saw the theme of this series, I must admit I was just thinking traditional pickles.  However, there are a wide variety of items mentioned over the course of the book that are pickled, and I'm actually quite curious to try a few.  There are two recipes in the back for those who want to try their hands at it, and neither of the recipes are for traditional cucumber pickles.

The Pickled Piper was a fun debut that I'm glad I made time to read.  I'm already looking forward to seeing what happens next to Piper and her circle of friends and will certainly be back for the sequel.

NOTE: I was sent an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.


  1. I reviewed this one too and will post mine tomorrow. I loved this one. Glad you enjoyed it too.

    1. I will head over tomorrow to read your review. Looking forward to it.

  2. It is one of my favorites of the year for sure.

    1. I've got to get more firsts of the year read, but this one could be on my list as well.

  3. This sounds like a fun series. It's always nice to find a new author/series you like! I'll have to keep my eye out for it.