Friday, June 27, 2014

The Death of Pie: A Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery

Author:  Tamar Myers
Genre:  Mystery

Five Stars

When a best-selling novelist falls face-down dead into Magdalena Yoder's prize-winning apple pie during the village of Hernia’s 110th Annual Festival of Pies, there is no shortage of suspects in the subsequent murder investigation. A former guest at Magdalena’s PennDutch Inn, the author had made many enemies on publication of her subsequent tell-all book, exposing the faults and foibles of members of the local Amish/Mennonite community, and mocking their way of life. But who was enraged enough to poison the acid-tongued writer?

Hopelessly out of his depth, Hernia’s inexperienced young Chief of Police requests Magdalena’s help in uncovering the answer. As she sets about questioning her friends and neighbours, Magdalena discovers that more than one villager has a secret to hide.

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Magdalena Yoder is the Mennonite owner of the PennDutch Inn, where guests can pay upwards of $400 a night to have a "real Amish experience."  She is married to a Jewish doctor (retired), and mother to one-year-old Jacob and thirteen-year-old Alison.  She is also the town's mayor and a millionaire.  She has engaged a police chief, Toy, and paid for his salary, office, and uniforms herself.  She also owns quite a bit of the town she lives in, Hernia, herself.

Therefore, when Ramat (the novelist) is killed, Toy goes to Magdalena and asks if she will help him investigate the murder.  He has a list of suspects, but since they are all friends of hers, he wants her to approach them, figuring that she'll have better luck than he will.  In order to sweeten the deal, he offers to deputize her and let her drive the police cruiser (that she bought), since he purchased a nice Mercedes for himself and had it "decked out."

Well, what woman could resist that?  The only thing he asks is that she wear a semi-official outfit, so she wears a navy skirt and white blouse while she goes about her business.  However, that business isn't well-received by her friends as she questions them.  While she's ruffling feathers she's having to brush them calm at the same time in order to keep everyone happy.

And if that isn't enough, she has a crazy mother-in-law to deal with, who has started her own cult (although she calls it something else entirely - the Sisters of Perpetual Apathy).  The problem is that her mother-in-law, Ida, isn't apathethic about anything and has no problem showing her dislike of Magdalena while trying to figure out ways to end the marriage.

Her daughter Alison (adopted daughter, but that's another story entirely) speaks in malapropisms but Magdalena and her husband "the babester" Gabe, completely understand everything she's trying to say, even if the people around her don't.

The book is a real page-turner and I had a hard time putting it down (even to sleep).  It's quite amusing to read, the characters truly are characters, and when the killer was revealed, and the reason why the murder occurred, made a kind of wacky sense and increased my thoughts that the people in this town indeed have some problems going on that need to be dealt with.  But I definitely enjoyed the book and this newest edition to the Pennsylvania Dutch mysteries was well worth the wait.  Highly recommended.

http://www.amazon.com/Death-Pie-Pennsylvania-mystery-Mystery/dp/072788381X/

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