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Piper Prescott, proprietor of Spice It Up!, has persuaded Doug Winters, the mild-mannered vet she’s been dating, to demonstrate Indian cuisine at her shop. But before Doug’s presentation of classic chicken curry is completed, Ned Feeney, local handyman, bursts in with news of a murder.
Sandy Granger, the director of a local production of Steel Magnolias, was found strangled in the third-floor balcony of the Brandywine Creek Opera House. Sandy, it seems, had not endeared herself to cast or crew. Complaints about her ran the gamut from her management style to her lack of people skills. Everyone connected with the production falls under suspicion, including Piper Prescott’s BFF, Reba Mae Johnson, who made it well known how unhappy she is that she was cut from the cast.
When the spotlight for the dastardly deed shines on Reba Mae, Piper rushes to her friend’s defense. Who among Sandy’s detractors was angry enough to wrap a silk scarf around her neck—and pull tight? Will Piper succeed in solving the case before she becomes the killer’s encore performance? And will she ever learn just how to prepare the perfect curry? As delicious as it is charming, the latest entry in Gail Oust’s mouth-watering Spice Shop Mysteries is sure to delight both old fans and new.
Q: Reba, thanks for stopping by Island Confidential! Tell us a little bit about yourself—maybe something that readers might not guess.
RMJ: Hey, y’all. I’m Reba Mae Johnson, Piper Prescott’s BFF. After my husband Butch drowned during a fishin’ tournament—some say too much beer, not enough bass, but no matter, dead is dead—leavin’ me to raise twin boys, I reinvented myself. I’m the proud owner of the Klassy Kut, the best little beauty shop in Brandywine County. But what most folks don’t know is that I’m more than a pretty face. I’ve actually got a darn good head on my shoulders when it comes to business. Stay tuned. I’ve been savin’ up nickels and dimes to expand my horizons. I haven’t even breathed a word of my plans yet to Piper.
Q: Who’s the character you get along with the best?
RMJ: Like I said, Piper and I are besties and have been ever since when she moved into the house next door years ago. Both of us were new moms back then so we bonded over diaper rash and soap operas. Even after Piper moved to a bigger, grander house and joined the country club, our friendship remained unchanged. Piper’s the same gal she always was—sweet and steadfast. Why, when Butch died and I found myself up to the wazoo in debt, it was Piper who loaned me money for beauty school. She told her then-husband she’d needed the money for a tummy tuck. To this day, I don’t think CJ ever figured out her trim tummy was her own doin’ and not a plastic surgeons.
Q: Which other character do you have a conflict with?
RMJ: That’s easy. CJ Prescott, Piper’s ex, tops the list. He dumped my best friend to chase ambulances and a bimbo in a short skirt. Ask me, and I’ll tell you that makes him a fool in my book. CJ’s changed a lot over the years. I suspect he resorts to Clairol Nice ‘n Easy to keep his hair that yellow color. And his teeth are so white, it makes me want to grab my shades. But it’s his holier-than-thou attitude that really gets my goat. I’m usually not the kind to criticize, but you asked the question.
Q: Just between you and me: What do you really think of Gail Oust?
RMJ: She’s a good ol’ gal—for a Yankee. Most of the time she gets things right. She might not have been born in the South, but as she said, she got here as soon as she could.
Q: What’s next for you?
RMJ: What’s next? All kinds of changes comin’ up for me in Gail’s next book, Ginger Snapped, available next December. Keep it on your radar.
About The Author
Friends often accuse Gail Oust of flunking retirement. While working as a nurse/vascular technologist, Gail penned nine historical romances under the pseudonym Elizabeth Turner for Avon, Pocket, Berkley, and Kensington. It wasn’t until she and her husband retired to South Carolina that inspiration struck for a mystery. Hearing the words, “maybe it’s a dead body,” while golfing with friends fired her imagination for the Bunco Babe Mystery series originally published by NAL. In conjunction with Beyond the Page Publishing, the Bunco Babe series has been republished in digital format as the Kate McCall Mysteries complete with new titles and a whole new look. Gail is currently writing the Spice Shop Mysteries for Minotaur/St. Martin’s. When she isn’t reading, writing, or sleeping, she can usually be found on the golf course or hanging out with friends.
Keep up with Gail on her blog, Facebook, and Goodreads.