Candy Slain Murder
Country Store Mysteries #8
By Maddie Day
Author’s website: edithmaxwell.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Jeanie
Christmas cheer has sent the griddle into overdrive at Robbie Jordan’s popular country store and cafe. And this year, there’s a new seasonal special to feast on: murder!
As December sweeps through South Lick, Indiana, Robbie’s life seems merry and bright like the string lights glistening around town. But strange happenings signal a bumpy ride into the holidays. First a man raises eyebrows at Pans ‘N Pancakes when he claiming to be the long-lost half-brother of Robbie’s assistant. Then a fire destroys the home of a controversial anesthesiologist, exposing skeletal remains in his attic. Helplessly intrigued, all Robbie wants for Christmas is to stop her winter wonderland from becoming a real nightmare. With a decades-old mystery taking shape, can she run as fast as she can in pursuit of a killer who’s harder to crack than a stale gingerbread man? (From Goodreads)
Pans ‘N Pancakes is the happening place in South Lick any time of year for people to enjoy Robbie and her assistants’ excellent cooking, catch up with each other, and learn the local news. The town is preparing for the Christmas holiday with Santa Claus, tree lighting ceremonies, and at Robbie’s, tree trimming with boyfriend Abe and his son Sean, and keeping the country store portion of the restaurant stocked with gift items.
On the first day of December, Robbie’s assistant Danna receives an incredible surprise. A young man about five years older than her, came into Pans ‘N Pancakes to see her. Marcus said that he is Danna’s half-brother who had been adopted when he was born. He clearly loves his adoptive family, and only recently learned who his birth mother is. He and Danna share a family resemblance and have some similar interests, including cooking. They could only talk briefly but plan to get together very soon. Danna, an only child, is thrilled to have an older brother, but her mom has some explaining to do!
Later that night, the home of an anesthesiologist burns. An interesting find is made when the firemen go in through the roof. On the floor of the attic is someone’s skeletal remains. There is much speculation as the owner, Dr. William Geller, had a wife who had disappeared about a decade ago. A few people knew he was abusive toward Kristina, but he has maintained that she left him a long time ago. Adding to the speculation is that he is a known white supremacist and member of the Klan.
Two days later, Kristina’s twin, Toni, was found murdered in the duplex she lived in. Her renter in the other half never heard anything. There was no love lost between the two women, as Toni did nothing to make repairs to Shirley’s portion of the duplex. Then Shirley disappeared after describing to Robbie a person she saw leaving Toni’s side of the duplex the night she was killed.
Dr. Geller came into Pans ‘N Pancakes several times; each time he made his disdain for those he was prejudiced against known. He wanted Marcus arrested for Toni’s murder due to his religious preference and background. Geller wasn’t going to go back into Robbie’s restaurant/ store yet he did.
Robbie didn’t want to be part of the investigation yet couldn’t stop herself from asking questions. She did pass along anything she learned to her nemesis, Octavia, the state police detective called in to investigate the death of Geller’s late wife. Buck, a friend, South Lick police lieutenant and regular customer at Pans ‘N Pancakes, assisted Octavia when requested. Octavia had a few surprises up her sleeve for Robbie this time.
I enjoy how there is a variety of characters who, overall, live peaceably in South Lick and the surrounding area. Each of the primary characters is well-developed and defined, and the new characters we learn about as Robbie does. Even as a relative newcomer to the area, Robbie has a way of learning about others and being trusted by most, as she doesn’t use what she learns to hurt anyone but simply to help find justice for victims. I do miss reading about her woodworking talents as we did when remodeling for her B&B rooms and briefly mentioned this time.
Several suspects are brought to light. Marcus, Danna’s brother, is even noted as a suspect due to some events from his past. The plot comes together well, and I was surprised at the end by the fact that this reader’s attention is so well diverted from one individual that others seemed more viable. There are special surprises at the end, leaving all loose ends tied up. I highly recommend this riveting mystery; it can be read as a standalone or within the order of the series.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*