Scene of the Brine: Pickled and Preserved Mystery by Mary Ellen Hughes

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Scene of the BrineA couple of years ago when I was given The Pickled Piper, the first book in this series to review, I wondered how an entire series could evolve around a pickling business. I have been pleasantly surprised. Scene of the Brine is the third book in the series, and things continue to look up for this series.

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The protagonist, Piper Lamb, who was likable from the beginning is continuing to be an interesting character who, for the most part thinks before acting. The town of Cloverdale, New York continues to develop into a believable community, and the townspeople who play reoccurring roles become better defined with each book. Isn’t that what readers want from a series?

When the assistant to a successful local businessman dies of beetroot poisoning, a local college kid home for on break is the main suspect. Sure Sugar Heywood and her son have become a part of the community, but they are still considered newcomers and not a lot is known about their past. However, Cloverdale, New York is a tight knit community that tends to close ranks around one of their own, so when a well loved community elder nearly dies of the same poison, uneasy eyes fall on Piper and her store. Although Piper is a relative new comer, her family has been in Cloverdale for a long time. No one really believes Piper wanted to harm Mrs. Tilley, but everything points back to Piper’s famous Brandied Cherries as the likely source of the poison. But was Mrs. Tilley’s poisoning an accident or was it an effort to warn Piper off her investigation?

A final note about these books. While I was a bit skeptical of the “pickle shop” setting, the obligatory recipes found at the end of these books are some of the most interesting, and very do-able ones that I have found in books of this sort.

This is the best book of the series yet. I am excited to see what Hughes has in store for Piper in the future as this series continues to grow.

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