Genre: cozy mystery
Tucked away in a picturesque corner of Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Magdalena Yoder’s PennDutch Inn is a treat, and the perfect locale for a cooking contest. Unfortunately, as Magdalena discovers when a corpse is found in the barn, some food is to die for …
The killer is old Matilda, a cow accused of fatally kicking the CEO of the gourmet food company sponsoring the contest. Melvin Stolzfus, the local police chef, locally known to be two eggs short of an omelette, calls it accidental death. But Magdalena knows that a killer cow is a lot of bull. And when new evidence pins suspicion on Freni, the inn’s own cook – who hopes her bread pudding will win the grand prize – Magdalena starts sniffing about on her own. But she’d better watch her back. The real killer has decided to cook another goose. And Magdalena may just be the next course on a murderer’s menu.
Welcome to the PennDutch Inn. Magdalena Yoder is the owner, and she is a Mennonite. Which is just a tad more liberal than being Amish, like a lot of her family and friends are. Of course, they are all closely related to one another, or as Magdalena is fond to say: she is her own cousin. She is also very strict for her guests, no swearing, no drinking, no smoking, no t.v., no nothing. She has lots of famous guests, and she loves dropping names, which makes for very fun little innuendo’s.
The cross Magdalena has to bear is her nitwit of a sister, Susannah, who has very loose virtues, and carries a tiny little dog called Snookums in her bra. Then there is Freni, the Amish cook, who was a dear friend of their mother. Magdalena has lost her parents in a freak car accident, and she has converted the farm into an inn, and has to take care of her sister until she is mature enough to get her half of the inheritance. Which will be never.
Magdalena is very clever, for instance, she offers her guests the Amish package, meaning they will have to make their own beds, sweep their own rooms and help with other chores in and around the inn. And she makes them pay for it. She also allows them to practice quilt making in her salon, providing the materials. But then she sells the quilts they make to a local gift shop, and keeps the money for herself. But, she does tithe heavily to her church.
Magdalena is over 40 years old, and was quite used to her virgin state, until their neightbours son wooed her and wed her. And then left her, telling her he was married already … Making Magdalena an adulteress, and having committed a grave sin in the eyes of her church. Even though she did not know about it. So now she knows about the sins of the flesh, but is a free woman again. I love the little tidbits sneaked in the story about how she avenges herself on Aaron though. Very funny.
Old Freni has been asked to enter in a cooking contest, with a grand prize of $ 100.000,00. She has a great slow-baked bread pudding to die for, and she wants to win. She will use the money to bribe her daughter-in-law Barbara, whom she despises, to leave her son. Even though he will be heartbroken. Her apron strings are made of iron. The catch is though, the jury, the organizer and the other contestants will have to stay at the Inn, as the contest will take place here. So Magdalena will have to cancel her celebrity guests for that week. But well, she gave her permission before she knew that detail!
And a very colourful lot of people enter her Inn, even though Magdalena is used to a lot of strange birds. And when the organizer of the contest, and the owner of the food company, is found murdered in her barn, she will have to use all her wits to defend Freni’s innocence and find out who really did it. Unfortunately, all the other people present hated his guts, they all have motive enough to have done the evil deed.
I liked this story, even though it totally confounds me when Magdalena speaks some ancient Pennsylvania Dutch, and it is not Dutch at all, but German. (For you who don’t know me, I am Dutch). Still, I totally like the humor and sarcasm of Magdalena, the ways she deceives herself for the greater good, and others, and manages to find out the truth, or at least to survive when the killer sets his sights on her. And this time, I had no clue whatsoever who has done it. Also, the way the killer wanted to get rid of Magdalena was pure genius.
The story also has a great surprise for Freni, and suddenly, her daughter-in-law Barbara is the dearest thing to her old heart.
If you like a nice cozy mystery, with fun characters and lots of sarcasm and wit, mixed with Amish and Mennonite sayings and customs, I hope you will enjoy this series. But to stay fair, I cannot read a few back to back, I need some time between them.
© 2012 Reviews by Aurian