Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Too Many Crooks Spoil the Broth

by Tamar Myers,
Doubleday, 1994

A Pennsylvania Dutch mystery with recipes.

An avid mystery reader, I am always on the lookout for a new cozy series to enjoy. Especially while I wait for the next installments from M.C. Beaton (Agatha Raisin), Joanne Fluke (Hannah Swensen), Jill Churchill (Jane Jeffry - I think I've read the last one, actually), and Robin Hathaway (Dr. Fenimore and Dr. Jo Banks).

This is not a bad beginning for what I believe is Tamar Myers' first book. It's certainly first in this series. Her main characters, straight-laced, never-married, Amish woman Magdalena Yoder, and her flamboyant, divorced, free-spirited younger sister, Susannah Yoder Entwhistle, provide delightful counterpoints for each other. Magdalena, the primary heir of their parents' estate, has turned the family property into a Bed and Breakfast establishment, with temperamental Aunt Frini as its on-again off-again cook, and Uncle Mose as its steady behind-the-scenes jack-of-all-trades.

When Magdalena messes up the weekend's reservations by allowing a group of deer hunters and a group of animal rights protesters to share space at the inn, all hell breaks loose. It isn't long before one of the guests is found at the bottom of a steep staircase and Magdalena fears a possible lawsuit. After she is shot at in the woods, she fears more than that. It doesn't help when another guest is found dead, clutching Mama's best Dresden Plate quilt.

What are the real relationships between the guests? Does one of them have a motive for murder? Can Magdalena piece the story together before there are any more fatalities?

While I was a little disappointed in the ending (the who-dun-it), I found much to enjoy in this book. The interactions between the main characters are hilarious, and I was amused by the author's inclusion of her husband and herself in the story (as good-as-gold police chief, Jeff Myers, and his mule-mouthed wife, "Tammy"). There are also delicious Pennsylvania Dutch recipes to dry. I look forward to reading the next book in the series and expect the mysteries to get better as Myers' gets more experience in the genre.

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