Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Book Review: License to Dill by Mary Ellen Hughes (Pickled and Preserved Mystery #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong mystery with lots of great suspects
Cons: Nothing worth preserving in writing
The Bottom Line:
Soccer team arrives
Stirring bad blood and murder
Great book to enjoy

License for Fun

I’ll admit I probably never would have started Mary Ellen Hugh’s Pickled and Preserved series if I hadn’t gotten a copy of an ARC of the first book.  I enjoyed it and jumped at a chance to read License to Dill, the second in the series.  I’m happy to report that it is even stronger than the first.

Despite Piper’s efforts to break up with Scott, he’s decided to move to Cloverdale.  He just doesn’t understand that their relationship is over.  Not only does this not sit well with Piper, but it is also upsetting Will, Piper’s new boyfriend.

However, the rest of the town is buzzing about the upcoming soccer tournament.  A semi-professional team from Italy is coming to play the best in the Cloverdale area in a best of three tournament.  When the team arrives, everyone is shocked to learn that the team’s manager is Raffaele Conti, who was an exchange student in the area as a teen.  He made a lot of enemies during that time, and his reappearance has stirred up those old feelings.  His behavior isn’t helping any as it quickly becomes obvious he hasn’t changed at all.  When Raffaele is found shot in the middle of Gerald Standley’s dill field, he immediately becomes a suspect.  But Piper is certain that her dill supplier is innocent.  Can she find out which act from Raffaele’s teenage years lead to his murder?

Now I realize that plot teaser might make it seem like the romantic sub-plot takes over the book.  While it is a strong element of the story, it always remains what it should be – a sub-plot.  And honestly, I enjoyed watching how it played out.  It weaves in and out of the larger mystery nicely with many scenes being important to both.

The mystery itself was very well done.  There’s tension from the moment that our victim enters the scene.  As the story progresses, Piper slowly peels back the layers of the suspects, finding out more secrets, motives, and clues that might have led to the murder.  I did suspect the killer at one point, but had then switched to someone else by the time we reached the end.  Really, there are so many strong suspects it’s hard to know exactly who might have done it, but everything falls into place neatly by the end.

Strong suspects always mean strong characters, and this book has plenty of them.  I never had a hard time remembering who all the suspects were because they were so well developed.  The series regulars are just as strong.  I would have liked to have seen a few of the returning characters from the previous book a bit more, but that probably would have just slowed down the story.  This really is a great cast, and it is fun to hang out with them.

And yes, there are a couple of pickling recipes in the back.  There’s also a crash course of preparing and serving dill.

All told, License to Dill was a pure delight to read.  I was sorry to see it end and I’m already looking forward to Piper’s next case.

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

And I think it's time for a GIVEAWAY!

I'm going to keep it very simple.  This series has introduced me to the wide variety of things that can be pickled.  If you've read the first book, what did Piper pickle that intrigued you most?  Or, what have you tried pickled that you really liked.  And if it is as simple as, well, pickles, that's fine, too.

Just answer the question and provide an e-mail address, and I'll pick a random winner on 2/10.  That means you must be entered before midnight on the 10th to be considered.

Good luck.


  1. This sounds like a fun series! I love to cook so I enjoy foodie type mysteries so I'll have to pick up the first one.

    I had a sweet and spicy pickled watermelon that was absolutely fantastic and actually I'm pickling red onions right now for a topping for tacos for dinner tonight - my email is katherine.e.pitts@gmail.com

  2. I haven't heard of this series and it sounds interesting. I used to do a lot of pickling and preserving when my kids were younger and I had a garden. I'll look this series up. I'm glad I saw your review.

  3. I've not read this series yet and this sounds like a great place to start. Loved my grandma's bread and butter pickles.

  4. I used to make pickled sour cherries. Oh! Were they ever good. Hard to find the cherries now.

  5. I have to say that her watermelon rind pickles sounded interesting to me, I have never tried pickling anything, my dad tried making pickles when we were kids, we couldn't wait that long and usually ate them before they were fully pickled.

  6. Hopping over from the Foodies Read challenge...

    This sounds as much fun for the small-town setting as the foodie aspects.

    I know I'm too late for the giveaway, but I liked your question. I never really liked pickled anything, but my CSA gave us pickling cucumbers and a recipe for sweet refrigerator pickles and it turns out those are great! I pour them over fresh tomatoes in the summer for an easy salad.

    Joy's Book Blog

    1. Pickled cucumbers are one of the few things I have tried and loved from the pickling world. Turned up my nose at pickled turnups last weekend, so I'm not that brave - yet.

  7. I love the word-play in the title, Mark, and the story sounds like one I'd really enjoy as well.
    I hope you're having a fantastic week!

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    1. I love puns, so I enjoyed that as well. If you get a chance to read it, I hope you enjoy it.