Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Review: Kill 'Em With Cayenne by Gail Oust


A brand new finger-lickin’ good mystery featuring small-town Georgia spice shop owner Piper Prescott, a smart and spunky amateur sleuth.

Spices are flying off the shelves of Spice It Up!, and Piper Prescott couldn’t be happier. It’s that time of year again—time for the annual Brandywine Creek Barbecue Festival. Soon contestants and BBQ aficionados from all over the Southeast will converge on the town. Many of Brandywine Creek’s citizens plan to participate in the week-long festivities and are busily concocting savory rubs and sassy sauces. Among the locals vying for the grand prize are Becca Dapkins and Maybelle Humphries. The women have been arch enemies ever since Buzz Oliver dumped Maybelle after a thirteen-year courtship and started seeing Becca.

When Becca’s body is found near one of the festival booths, bludgeoned by a brisket, Maybelle becomes one of Chief Wyatt McBride’s top suspects. Determined to help clear her friend’s name, Piper begins her own investigation, much to McBride’s consternation. As the festival draws closer, will Piper and Reba Mae be able to find the real killer and clear Maybelle’s name? Will Piper make it to the annual shag contest with Doug Winters, the mild-mannered vet she’s been seeing? And, who will win the BBQ cook-off?



I expected Kill 'em with Cayenne to be a cozy because:  the title of the book is punny, there is food on the cover and the main character is female.  What I didn't expect was to find a brisket as the murder weapon, especially all frozen and bludgeony-like.  Neither did I expect terms like "annual shag contest" and "butt-rubbin' party" to enter into my vocabulary.

This last bit brings me a private snicker every time I think of it.  If I happen to think about it in public, I may have to explain about the book, which causes people to realize these are actually quite benign terms.  But I still would be wise to keep a supply of fans on hand for the faint of heart.

I live in (well near) a small town which, like Brandywine, knows how to do up a good festival.  In many small towns, everyone knows everyone else's business, which is, admittedly, a double-edged sword.  In Maybelle's case, I dare say that if Piper hadn't been 'on the case', she probably would have been in the pokey in fairly short order.  She was known to despise the victim (for stealing her boyfriend) and didn't have an alibi for the night of the murder.

Having the murder take place in the run-up to the BBQ Festival brings up an interesting constraint.  Is the murderer from town or in town for the festival.  And if the latter, s/he/they would be leaving at the end of the festival, making solving the crime exponentially more difficult.

But, luckily for readers, Ms. Oust knows just how to simmer her story to bring out its full flavor.  So bring your bibs and napkins, because Killing 'em with Cayenne is finger-lickin' good!



Friends accuse Gail Oust of flunking retirement.  While working as a nurse/vascular technologist, Gail penned nine historical romances under the pseudonym of Elizabeth Turner.  It wasn’t until after 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 published by NAL.  Gail is currently writing the Spice Shop Mysteries published by Minotaur/St. Martin’s Press.  Kill ‘em with Cayenne, the second in the series, was released December 2014.  Her interests include reading, travel, golf, and spending time with friends and family.


Click the button above to go to the tour page at Great Escapes.  There are more reviews, as well as guest posts, an interview and a giveaway of a signed copy!

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.)


This book also helped me fulfill the following 2015 Reading Challenges:

105 Challenge (#11 - cozy mysteries)
Gentle Spectrums (#10 - Humorous)
Ultimate Reading Challenge (#10 - a mystery or thriller)


  1. Congrats on your release, Gail! This sounds similar (but different) to the Josie Killpack "Culinary Mysteries" series. Very cleaver.

    Wishing you a Happy New Year, LuAnn! :)

  2. Wow, this certainly sounds like you ended up reading a different book than expected! Also, I did find the terms a bit shocking but it was good that you explained them to us as well ^^ Looks like something you really enjoyed reading, so yay!

  3. I do enjoy these themed murder mysteries , quilting , tea shop etc . Will keep a note of this one