Batter Off Dead
Obsidian, Feb 2009, $22.95
Old Order Mennonite Magdalena Yoder, owner of the Penn Dutch Inn, has temporarily closed her businessl due to her expecting any week now. At eight and a half months pregnant running the inn is too much along with her duties as mayor and with her church; the latter two coming before making money. Still she hosts the Beechy Grove Mennonite Church Brotherhood fundraising all you can eat breakfast.
Magdalena irritates Minerva J. Jay over gluttony charges when the latter eats twenty-six pancakes and seventeen pork bellies. Shortly after her gouging, Minerva dies. The toxicologist reports states that someone added an overdose of pills into the pancake batter, making the death a homicide. Chief of Police Chris Ackerman knows Magdalena’s record for solving murder cases so he asks her to help, but she puts him off as she gave birth in her cousin’s grocery store just after Minerva died. When she begins to investigate she starts with the Church Brotherhood and quickly learns almost every member had a reason to loathe Minerva; none seem sad or suffer remorse as the glutton was blackmailing people and seducing married men. However, no one appears to be desperate enough to kill the woman who made everyone miserable.
Motherhood does not sweeten Magdalena’s acerbic nature although she obviously loves and cares for her newborn although she treats the baby in the same manner she handles adults; this leads to amusing scenes as the infant acts like some of the childish adults she knows. The mystery is well executed with an interesting group of suspects who, like her family, try to stay out of Magdalena’s way, but also like her relatives fail as she is more tenacious than a bull dog. Tamar Myers writes a delightful picturesque Pennsylvania Dutch cozy.