Licensed to Dill (Pickled and Preserved Mystery) by Mary Ellen Hughes

Licensed to DillReviewed by Caryn St. Clair

Piper Lamb returns in the second “Pickled and Preserved Mystery.” Having successfully launched Piper’s Picklings, her shop of all things pickled in The Pickled Piper, Piper’s life seems to be back on track. Her relationship with Will is going well, her business is thriving and she has settled into the comfortable rhythms of small town Cloverdale, New York. But things seldom remain the same for long and unfortunately for Piper, the changes that were to come caused some pretty big upsets in her life.

First, her former fiancé not only wants back into her life, he wants her life. After leaving her to wander the world he is not only back in the country, he has decided to move to Cloverdale and open a legal practice just down the street from her shop. Repeatedly she tells him there is no “them” as a couple but repeatedly he manages to wiggle into her day to day life, leaving Will to wonder where he fits in to all of this.

But the bigger development is that an Italian soccer club is coming to play a series of games against the local team. This is possible because the Italian’s team coach, Raffaele Conti, was an exchange student in Cloverdale when he was in high school. Unfortunately, his homecoming is not a pleasant one. There are many hard feelings and resentments from some things he did when he was an exchange student and those feelings are rekindled when he returns. Anyone who reads mysteries can see where this is going. Before you know it, Conti is found dead in the dill field owned by Gerald Standley-someone who has more resentment than most towards Conti.
Since Standley is one of Piper’s main suppliers, Piper offers to help investigate.

I admit I was skeptical when the first book in this series came out. I didn’t see how a series could be built around pickling. I am happy to say I was wrong. Piper and the other regular characters of the series make Cloverdale a place I’d like to visit time and again. The author has injected a bit of romance into the series without having it take over the mystery. But most importantly, the two books in the series so far have very different plots showing off the community and characters from different angles. There are the expected recipes in the back of the book and I suppose they are terrific, but this series does not need the “recipes included” gimmick to sell itself. Piper does that just fine all by herself.

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