In the past, Lou Jane Temple has written contemporary mysteries about Heather Lee, a restaurant owner in Kansas City, Missouri. She moves back in time to 1860s New York for her latest book, The Spice Box. Bridget Heaney arrived in New York from Ireland as a child, and grew up on the streets and in an orphanage, along with her sister, Maggie. Fortunately for Bridget, she had a love of cooking that brought her to a mansion owned by the Gold family. Bridget's first day in her new job as a cook is disrupted when she finds the murdered body of the son of the household.
In an unusual twist, Bridget teams up with Mr. Gold, her boss and owner of Gold's Department Store, to find his son's killer. As her common sense proves to be a benefit to their search, he learns to trust her, and insists on helping her find her missing sister.
Although this partnership seems unusual, The Spice Box offers a fascinating look at three worlds; the Irish immigrant experience in mid-century New York, and the contrasting worlds of the serving class and upper class. Temple brings Bridget and her world to life while presenting an intriguing mystery.