I'm not rating this one because I couldn't even get to page 60 before closing it with a "nope, can't do it". By page 32 there were so many implausibilities my suspension of belief snapped from the tension of over-stretching.
The MC's (Piper's) ex-fiancee is a lawyer working in the district attorney's office that has decided to "find himself" by taking off for Tibet. They break up, and she moves to Cloverdale to start up her picking business. He calls her from Tibet just to tell her about the dinner he had the night before, and then feigns surprise that she's still in Cloverdale; he seems to not understand that they're broken up. He's a lawyer. Unless his degree came from a website I'm having a hard time believing he's that vague on the details.
The murder setup: Piper's employee's boyfriend (got that?) tried to get a 'gig' as the MC of the local fair's talent show. He lost out to someone who's done it every year for the last decade, but seems to be universally disliked by everyone in town. That man ends up dead and the police immediately suspect it's the employee's boyfriend. Really? That's the best you can do? He's the prime suspect because he didn't get to play MC for a two-bit talent show?
During a conversation with her employee, Amy, who is 21 (but already a trained chef), to Piper's 30, I found Piper to be incredibly condescending, saying how her age gave her a "more realistic view of life" - because Amy thought they'd sell a lot of pickles at the fair. This was just about the point I was ready to give up. But I kept on - it was only page 9 after all.
The breaking point for me was at the scene of the murder: Piper's fair booth and specifically her giant pickle barrel. As the police are setting up barriers around the crime scene, a fellow booth owner comes storming over to Piper yelling at her for allowing someone to get killed in her booth, thereby affecting her neighbour's business. The scene ends with the booth owner stomping off shouting this gem:
"Nothing like this ever happened around here before you showed up with your pickling shop!"
Piper's only been in town a few months and this is the first book in the series.
I've seen reviews for this book that have been positive (although not gushing) so I have to believe there's probably some quality later on in the story - but I just can't bring myself to slog through this to get to it. It's a bit of a bummer because I'm very intrigued and curious about pickling and I thought this could be a fun read. I'm not chucking the book - I might try reading it again later to see if perhaps it's just a mood thing.