is the temporary Fire Chief in Sweet Pepper, Tennessee. The
fire brigade is an all-volunteer group, working together under
her leadership. Stella plans to move back to Chicago once
she has the brigade all trained. However, situation after
situation has given her pause for thought. Not the least of
the “situations” is the ghost of former Fire Chief
Eric Gamlyn, with whom she shares the Fire Chief’s cabin.
Stella is determined to find out exactly what
happened when Eric died, 40 years prior. He was murdered,
of that there is no doubt, but who killed him and why? As
more information comes to light, and a retired police deputy,
Mace Chum, is shot and killed, Stella begins to fit the pieces
of the puzzle together. Will she solve the murders before
someone else is hurt? On the other hand, will someone take
Stella right out of the equation?
J. J. Cook, the pen name for this book, is
the writing team of Joyce and Jim Lavene. I enjoyed this book
very much, as I frequently enjoy anything that the Lavenes
write. They work so well together as a husband and wife team,
and they manage to write many different mystery series as
once. I admire them greatly.
I was thrilled that Stella’s parents
and her cheating ex-fiancé came to Sweet Pepper, as
they added more depth to Stella’s life story outside
of Sweet Pepper. Although there was no way she’d go
back to Doug, the ex-fiancé, Stella was torn about
going back to family and friends and her job as a Fire Captain
in Chicago. She missed all of that, but Sweet Pepper tugged
at her heartstrings, as did the ghost of Eric Gamlyn!
The Lavenes, aka J. J. Cook, don’t usually
wander into the territory of having the female protagonist
being “too stupid to live,” something that irks
me frequently with mysteries, but this time they strayed there.
Fortunately, they found their way back quickly and there was
a fast resolution to a dangerous situation.
Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery series is fast-paced, and as exciting
as a July 4 fireworks show! I love the series and look forward
to the next book. While I wait, I may just try a recipe or
two from the back of the book. The Red Pepper Fudge looks