Pike Place Market – Where the Ghosts Live On Guest Leslie Budewitz

Catherine Larklund is the winner of Leslie’s book. Watch for an email from Leslie!

I’m happy to welcome back Leslie Budewitz. She’s a multi-published author. a fellow past president of Sisters in Crime, and a lovely human being. The paperback version of the fifth book in her Spice Shop mystery series, The Solace of Bay Leaves, comes out on October 20, 2020. Look for a giveaway at the end of the post!

Leslie: When I was researching Assault & Pepper, the first Spice Shop mystery, I took a trip to Seattle and my BFF and I spent the day prowling the Pike Place Market, where the series is set. We stopped for coffee at Ghost Alley Espresso, http://ghostalleyespresso.com/ a hole-in-the-wall that neither of us remembered. I told the owner what I was up to. Turned out she was a child of the Market, whose parents had started a business selling her mother’s watercolors, cards, and calendars. (Called Studio Solstone, it’s still there. http://www.seattlewatercolors.com/ And the BFF sends me their calendars; you can see the espresso shop in the lower middle.)


Our new friend wanted a storefront as home base for her business giving ghost tours of the city, including the Market. Her tiny shop under the stairs, on the way to the Market Theater and the Gum Wall, had originally been intended as a rest stop for drivers and delivery men, then became forgotten storage. Only because she grew up knowing the Market inside out did she realize it could be useable space. Convincing the agencies that run the Market was another matter, and she used her own story to illustrate the process of setting up a business in the Market and leasing space. Literally—she took over my notebook and sketched out the organizational structure.



Most useful cup of coffee I ever had.

(In truth, I don’t think she actually charged us for the coffee, but I bought several books from her, including her book, Market Ghost Stories, and I sent her a signed copy of Assault & Pepper.)

That conversation fed me details about running a Market business that have worked their way into the Spice Shop series—the role of the Public Development Authority and the Historic Commission, the hoops Pepper jumps through to get permission for a new sign in Guilty as Cinnamon, the basement storage units where she finds clues in Killing Thyme.

It also gave me the ghost theme.

I’m not talking your ordinary ghosts. Instead, I’ve explored the history of the Market through its ghost stories, fueled by its history and higgledy-piggledy construction. (One book does involve an actual–maybe ghost—I won’t spoil the series for new readers by saying which one.) I’ve played with ways the word “ghost” shows up in our language: “ghosting” in relationships; ghost traps, a sad fact of the fishing life; and in The Solace of Bay Leaves (out October 20, from Seventh St. Books), ghost signs.

You know ghost signs, don’t you? Faded advertising signs painted on the sides of old buildings, for a long-gone tenant or an unrelated product. Some are quite vivid; others, you’ve got to squint to see. Some walls boast layers of signs. Occasionally, as happened in Missoula while I was writing Solace, one will reappear when an adjacent building is torn down. I was already fascinated by ghost signs and had been hoping to work them into the series. When I read that story and saw the sign, I immediately thought it belonged in Solace, where Pepper investigates a shooting that leaves an old friend gravely injured and discovers unexpected ties to the unsolved murder of her friend Laurel’s husband.

How that ghost sign would work its way into the story, I didn’t know. Here’s a hint.

Used with Permission

Unfortunately, I’ve never taken any photos of ghost signs in Seattle, and didn’t get a chance to travel there this summer, as I’d hoped. These photos are from downtown Kalispell, Montana, the nearest “big town” to me. (Readers of my Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries know it as Pondera.)

Readers, any ghost signs in your town? A favorite old building you’ve heard is haunted? Talk to Leslie in the comments for a chance to win a signed copy (US only) ot The Solace of Bay Leaves.



From the cover of The Solace of Bay Leaves, the 5th Spice Shop Mystery by Leslie Budewitz (Seventh St. Books, July/October 2020, in paperback, ebook, and audio).

Pepper Reece never expected to find solace in bay leaves.

But when her life fell apart at forty and she bought the venerable-but-rundown Spice Shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, her days took a tasty turn. Now she’s savoring the prospect of a flavorful fall and a busy holiday cooking season, until danger bubbles to the surface …

Between managing her shop, worrying about her staff, and navigating a delicious new relationship, Pepper’s firing on all burners. But when her childhood friend Maddie is shot and gravely wounded, the incident is quickly tied to an unsolved murder that left another close friend a widow.

Convinced that the secret to both crimes lies in the history of a once-beloved building, Pepper uses her local-girl contacts and her talent for asking questions to unearth startling links between the past and present—links that suggest her childhood friend may not have been the Golden Girl she appeared to be. Pepper is forced to face her own regrets and unsavory emotions, if she wants to save Maddie’s life—and her own.

Leslie Budewitz blends her passion for food, great mysteries, and the Northwest in two cozy mystery series, the Spice Shop Mysteries set in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, and the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, set in NW Montana. Watch for her suspense debut, Bitterroot Lake (written as Alicia Beckman) in April 2021. A three-time Agatha-Award winner (2011, Best Nonfiction; 2013, Best First Novel; 2018, Best Short Story), she is a past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America. She lives and cooks in NW Montana.

Find her online at www.LeslieBudewitz.com and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LeslieBudewitzAuthor More about the Solace of Bay Leaves, including an excerpt and buy links here: http://www.lesliebudewitz.com/spice-shop-mystery-series/



73 Thoughts

  1. I stayed at the Seelbach in Louisville Kentucky a couple of times. It is a beautiful hotel that is reputed to be haunted by the Lady in Blue. I never saw her during my times I was there.

    1. Ooh, sounds mysterious! Do you remember the story?

      Sorry I’m late to the blog this morning — I’m a Westerner, and we had a power outage, but all is well now! (Or will be when the coffee brews!)

  2. This is such a good book! Because I was a maniac writer the last week on retreat, I’m reading more slowly than usual and am still only halfway through, but I knew right away the ghost sign you refer to, Leslie.

    We have a number of them on nineteenth-century factory buildings here in Amesbury, for long-gone carriage companies and one for Hoyt’s Peanut Butter! Some of the buildings, alas, are empty and waiting for just the right tenant. But that means the bricks haven’t been sandblasted and spiffed up, so the ghostly history remains.

    1. Edith, those sound wonderful! I love how the Kalispell (MT) Brewing Company (shown in the picture) kept the signs from the old car dealership, inside and out, as well as other historic features. Haven’t heard of a ghost there, though!

  3. I don’t know about any ghost signs in my town. But my friend Ann lives in the oldest house in her town and she says it has a bevy of ghosts in it.

  4. We don’t have any here in our very small town. However, down in the southwestern part of our state where we moved from there were several in the old downtown district. Most I have seen are just that – in older, forgotten parts of town left with their ghost and memories as the businesses move out to strip malls or closer to interstates.

    When you mentioned living close to Kalispell it brought back such wonderful memories of our extended trip last year. We traveled from the Grand Tetons, to Yellowstone, headed to Glacier and then to Mount Rushmore and the Badlands. We stayed a few nights in Kalispell. Loved the area!

    Can’t wait for the opportunity to read “The Solace of Bay Leaves” which is on my TBR list. Love your books!

    Shared and hoping to be the very fortunate one selected.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  5. We are new in town so I am not aware of any. A few years before we moved from MA for my husband’s birthday I got tickets to meet 3 of the Ghost Hunters from TV at the Houghton Mansion in North Adams, MA. You got to spend the night in a haunted mansion. I bought some ghost huntion gadgets. It was fun and cool to meet and take picture with 3 of the ones we watched on TV. They even sit with you and give you help on what to do. Nothing much happened but one of our meters showed some activitiy in the kitchen. Thank you for this chance!! pgenest57(at)aol(dot)com

    1. What fun! One of the Ghost Hunters episodes takes place in the old Butterworth Mortuary in Seattle, which is now part of the Market, and home to Kell’s, an Irish brew pub. Restaurants went in and out, closing for mysterious reasons, until the owner of this one realized all would be well if he left a beer out for the ghost at night — and every morning, it’s empty! And this has gone on for decades now!

  6. Pittsburgh’s Strip District has a number of ghost signs from the produce companies that use to occupy the buildings, but are now long gone.

  7. I loved your story about Ghost Alley Expresso!
    I’ve never seen a ghost. But, when my twin sister an I was I’m guessing around eight we went in a abandoned house in town.
    It was definitely scary to us at that age and I’m sure there was ghosts among us! 😊
    Would love to win your new book! Thank you and have a great day!!!

  8. Thanks for visiting with the Wickeds to day, Leslie! There is a ghost sign that faces an intersection where I stop frequently on my way to the beach. I always love to think about the way the town where I am sitting has changed over the years!

  9. Congrats, your new book sounds great! I live in a mountain resort area and while we don’t have ghost signs on our wooden buildings, I love all the vintage signs that have been saved and mounted inside and out. Did see a lot of ghost signs in Georgia when living there.

  10. I live in a colonial town that started life as a shipyard and warehouse area–ghost signs from the past are everywhere but you do need to know where to look. Nice post, Leslie!

  11. Thanks for joining on this boo-tiful day! There is an old gas-station sign on its stand alone pole near my home. The gas station is long gone, though. It’s on a corner in an empty field and I drive by it to get to the main road. I’ve lived in the area for 30ish years. I wonder why it’s there?

  12. Yes, we have several “ghost signs” in our small city (used to be small town, but has grown) and one of them is on the side of what is now a pizza restaurant and it is in large white letters: SANITARY BAKERY. Maybe that was important to convey many years ago (early 1800’s), who knows? Also, we love herbs and have a herb garden and different pockets of herbs growing around our home. Almost 20 years ago now, we planted a small bay laurel near the corner of our house and it has since grown to be taller than our back porch roof. It has been trimmed many times and our neighbors always ask for the trimmings to dry to use in cooking. We can just go outside and pluck off a leaf of bay and stick it in a pot of stew or soup and enjoy. Your books sound like fun reading! 😉

    1. Judy, I envy that bay tree! There’s a building in Pike Place Market called the Sanitary Market, so designated in the teens or 20s to emphasize that no animals came into it, so no contamination occurred. Your bakery sign may have a similar origin.

      1. Thank you, I bet you are correct about the bakery being like the Pike Place Market Sanitary Market.

  13. Love ghost signs but never knew the term. When I lived in Florida I drove past one daily. It was on a building dated 1921 – old by South Florida standards, and it advertised David’s Barber Shop 5 cents (the cents was the sign, but I don’t remember the keyboard stroke). Then there were the old Coppertone signs on one of the first high rise buildings in Miami – not the neon mechanical one, but the predecessor. Here in Maine we have one that reads Roy’s Hardware in faded yellow paint on the brick Roy building. Roy’s Napa is still in the building but the old-timers have told me that the shop was an IGA for a while before Roy’s Napa moved in.

  14. Welcome back to the Wickeds, Leslie! I’m so excited to have a new Spice Shop mystery to read. I love ghost signs. I never had a name for them before now. How perfect.

  15. We don’t have many ghost signs in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, but there are lots as you drive through the small towns along the backroads between here and the Texas Hill Country.

    1. I suspect they are more common in places where there’s been less redevelopment, though occasionally one pops up unexpectedly, say on the side of a building when an adjacent structure comes down.

  16. Interesting bit of history. And fun to see how a random stop doing research influenced your series so much.

  17. There’s several ghost signs around here, some old and some fairly recent. There’s even a few where the business name was chiseled right into the brick or concrete, making it perfectly visible several decades after the building has been repurposed. I like to look at the old signs and think about what might have been in there and what it looked like back then.

    1. Exactly! Who built that, who designed it, who put their heart and soul into the building and the many businesses it held over the years? Solace explores some of those questions for one particular patch of Seattle.

  18. No ghost signs, but where I lived in PA, there was the old State Theatre which is supposedly haunted by Fred, named after J. Fred Osterstock, who used to manage the company that owned the theatre, back in the mid 1900s. Haven’t explored Virginia Beach yet to find any signs or ghosts.

  19. Welcome back, and congratulations Leslie! I love seeing ghost signs. There are a few around Boston, but I’ve noticed them more in New York. It always makes me wonder what it was like when the sign was vibrant. Regarding ghosts–a lot of theaters in Boston claim to be haunted, and there are too many stories to have me not believe them.

  20. Living in Lancaster, PA, a very old city, there are ghost signs all over the place. Love seeing them, especially when they are incongruous with the current business in the building.

    I’m looking forward to reading this book. I love the series.

  21. Right? Like the Oldsmobile dealership that’s now a brew pub or the outdoor gear shop with the faded Coke sign!

  22. Here in Portland, OR we have lots of reportedly haunted buildings. My favorite is called the Edgefield, which is a sort of destination hotel that used to be a poor farm. The art on the walls features scenes of the former residents, and there are some framed newspaper articles hanging on the walls. I’ve heard of both benign and not so benign ghosts on the grounds. Congratulations on the new release! aut1063(at)gmail(dot)com

  23. The Boston Commons are the earliest pieces of land settled by the Europeans, so it’s no surprise that it has been accused of ghost sightings and paranormal occurrences. It is said that there were many hangings that transpired there in the past and that, occasionally, ghostly figures of different women can be seen walking through the park.

  24. Ghost signs, never would have thought of that. It made me think of the book Love Lettering and the walks around NYC to look at old signs. Our town of Antioch is one of the oldest in California but once the downtown started sliding it never revitalized. I’ll be on the lookout for ghost signs now.

  25. No haunted places in the town where I live. However, we did visit the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, which is said to be haunted. One of our friends was walking down one of the hallways and said he saw two young girls dressed in 1900’s period clothing and they just disappeared right in front of his eyes.

    1. Whoa! Isn’t that the hotel reputed to have inspired The Shining? You couldn’t pay me enough!

  26. I have heard that here where I live there are some haunted places, but I don’t dare go there. This post is so very interesting. Thank you for sharing about it.

  27. I love the spice shop mysteries, read The Solace of Bay Leaves last week. Discovered Assault & Pepper while visiting son & his family in Seattle, try to visit the Market when I’m there, so the setting drew me in. Then I fell in love with tge characters & plots. Thank you for giving so much pleasure with these books!

  28. I’m sure that we have some ghost signs. I know that old names are still in stone, marble, or brick on buildings. Since I remember when a lot of those businesses were active, I like to see the remnants. Looking forward to your new book. Stay safe and well.

    1. Thanks, Sally. Yes, the carvings over the door, in the cornerstone, or at the top of the building are great architectural tidbits, aren’t they?

  29. When I worked at the hotel/casino Billy’s in Las Vegas, there was a rumor that the ghost of a costumer lived in the dressing and costume repair rooms in the bowels of the hotel beneath the stage. Supposedly she did not get out during the fire in the 1980s and died down there. Don’t know if it was true, but it was a darn good story for that already spooky area.

  30. Chestertown has a ghost sign on the old mill that is now a sushi place and a developer’s office. I THINK it is Red Bud Flour, but I’m not about to venture into and across town to verify. In any case, they repainted the sign several years back even though the location has not acted as a mill in the 53 years I’ve lived here.

  31. My step father feels his father’s presence at home. He’s felt his hand on his back, and unexpected things happen – lights turning on or off, and a few others. Is it in his head? Or could it really be a presence?

    1. Little mysteries everywhere! Me, I think it’s probably real, that the veil between the worlds thins sometimes. But we’ll never really know.

  32. I’m behind on catching up with my emails.
    I love Pikes Place. I visit every chance I get. There are so many layers to the place. I find new areas everytime I go. Haunted, oh yes.
    I’m very excited to get your series. Such fun!
    Thank you Wickeds!

    1. Those are great discoveries, leaving so much to the imagination — though also a little sad, since we can’t really know without some historical research. The building or shop owner might know, though.

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