11 June 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-63388536-3 (PB)
One of the wonderful things about “Golden Age” mysteries is how the books themselves are set up. There is a list of characters and their relationship(s) to each other. There are those lovely quotes at the beginning of every chapter, some of which are clearly connected to what happens in the chapter and some for which the connection must be sought out. Any violence, particularly deadly violence, takes place off stage, and the reader isn’t confronted with all kinds of blood and gore. The detective is frequently an amateur sleuth, relying on his/her own special skill set to sort out fact from fiction, truth from lies, and the like. Chai Another Day is classic “Golden Age” in all those respects. The fact that it is set in contemporary Seattle (Pike Place Market and environs) doesn’t detract from the atmosphere at all. Pepper Reece, the sleuth in this novel, is what would have been in St. Mary’s Meade a shopkeeper. She owns the Seattle Spice Shop and tends to other business in her not-so-copious free time.
Pepper is on her way to a much needed massage when she overhears part of an altercation in a vintage home décor store owned by a close friend. Not knowing who is arguing, and having someplace else to be, Pepper goes on her merry way. It comes as quite a shock to find the body of Joelle Chapman, ex-wife to a local notable, dead on the floor. Who was arguing with Joelle? Or was that argument totally unrelated to this death? There are so many connections tying Pepper and her friends to this particular death; to restore some kind of peace and calm to her life Pepper feels she must find the killer.
Budewitz has written a delightful “cozy” and/or traditional mystery. Pepper is an interesting character, with a life outside her job; this life is not always peaceful and calm, but never boring. There are sub-plots galore, some of which have the potential to be major plot points in a later novel in this series. The secondary characters also have the potential to become more major, play a bigger part in the next book or two. And who could ask for a better setting than Seattle in the general and Pike Place Market in the specific? All in all, this is a fun read for a sunny summer afternoon - have an iced chai by your side. There is a recipe for it in the back of the book, along with several other tempting options.
Reviewer: P.J. Coldren