4 star rating
Playing With Fire
Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery #2
By J. J. Cook
ISBN#  9780425252451
Author’s Website:

Brought to you by guest reviewer Mary C.

Playing with FireSynopsis:

Welcome to Sweet Pepper, Tennessee. Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, its home to the hottest and sweetest peppers in the world—as well as at least one ghost and a hotbed of secrets…


Fire Chief Stella Griffin is working to solve the mysterious death of her predecessor, Eric Gamlyn—who also haunts her cabin. Yet the more she learns the more burning questions she must answer. Just as Stella thinks she has a lead from Deputy Chum, someone snuffs her hopes—and the lawman.

Adding fuel to the fire, Stella’s parents soon arrive—with her ex-boyfriend—hoping to persuade her to return to Chicago. Now Stella is torn between the life she left behind and uncovering what happened to her ghostly friend. But she’d better think fast or more than her investigation could go up in flames…   (Amazon)


I eagerly looked forward to the second book in this series and I wasn’t disappointed. The strongly portrayed characters drew me in until I felt like part of the story.

When she doesn’t return home to her long held job as fire chief in Chicago, Fire Chief Stella Griffin is dismayed to find her parents and ex-boyfriend on her doorstep. However, Sarah is torn by her sense of duty and the need to follow through on the 40-year-old murder of former fire chief Eric Gamlyn who haunts the cabin where she stays. His body was found in the walls of the old fire station in the first installment of this series.

Odds are against finding clues to his murder when retired Deputy Mace Chum approaches her with never before revealed information, along with the certainty his life is in danger and he’s leaving town. Unfortunately, Deputy Mace’s fears are realized.

Chemistry between Eric and Stella continues to grow. His jealousy manifests with hilarious pranks on Doug while he’s staying at the cabin with Stella and her parents. And, Eric’s continual need to cook when stressed adds levity to sadder moments.

Liberally sprinkled clues give insight into why more than one suspect in town may have had reason to keep the murder quiet. When clues were brought to the chief of police by Stella, he was rude and disrespectful, making him one of the more unlikeable characters. I admit to being surprised when the murderer was revealed.

If you like a good mystery without the gore, strong, well-written characters, a small town setting, and the added touch of the supernatural, then this book fits the bill. I know with the cliffhanger ending that I’ll anxiously be awaiting the next installment.