Deep Fried Death
Country Store Mystery #12
By Maddie Day
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
In the latest Country Store Mystery by Agatha and Macavity Award-winning author Maddie Day, a killer strikes – with a cast iron skillet – during South Lick, Indiana’s annual Outhouse Race festivities, landing Pans ‘N Pancakes-owner Robbie Jordan on the suspect list…
Many residents of South Lick, Indiana, claim the Outhouse Race, in which competitors push old-timey outhouse replicas on wheels at the annual Abe Martin Festival on Memorial Day, is the best thing since indoor plumbing. Just because country store and restaurant owner Robbie Jordan has too much to do managing her new deep fryer as well as an old lover reappearing, she’s not going to miss out on the fun. Plus, it’s good for business.
But when a dead body and a cast-iron skillet tumble out of the Pans ’N Pancakes outhouse entry on the race route, it seems someone is trying to frame Robbie—in a most unconventional way. Now she’ll need to be privy to the townsfolks’ secrets as she races to flush out a killer . . . (from Goodreads)
Pans ‘N Pancakes is a highly successful breakfast/ lunch diner and country store in South Lick, Indiana. Robbie is an excellent chef, and her business continues to gain popularity. Many people, including those from tour buses, enjoy shopping for vintage cookware on her store shelves while awaiting their meal.
Memorial Day weekend was to bring positive notoriety from an unusual source for Pans ‘N Pancakes. Robbie and her staff were participating in the Outhouse Race at the Abe Martin Festival in Nashville, Indiana. Entrants are businesses that built outhouse lookalikes with wheels on the outside, and a bench seat and simple steering apparatus inside. Their cheerfully painted entry, along with those from other businesses, were delivered to the race location the prior day.
That morning, entries were being rolled into their starting places. When Robbie’s co-chefs, Danna and Turner, accidentally bumped a curb, the door of the Pans N’ Pancakes outhouse flew open and a body rolled out. It was Evermina, the owner of the new breakfast and lunch diner in South Lick who had been running social media ads badmouthing Pans ‘N Pancakes, hoping to put Robbie out of business.
Several jurisdictions were involved in Evermina’s murder. The Nashville police department, the County sheriff’s office, and the state police each have a hand in the investigation, but Nashville PD will do the overall honors. The chief of police, Haley Harris, is about Robbie’s age, and seems diligent and thorough. She also seems to have Robbie on the top of her suspect list, since Evermina was trying to hurt her livelihood. It didn’t help that Robbie’s husband, Abe, and his teenage son were away on a camping trip, so Robbie had no alibi for the night before. A target also seems to be on the back of Don, Robbie’s brother-in-law, after a public disagreement when he tried to collect her overdue account.
I enjoy each of the regular characters and their interactions, and continue to learn something new about them. Buck, one of my favorites, is now South Lick’s police chief. He has the most down-home sayings of anyone in that part of Indiana, and for a slender man, he eats more food in a meal than most do in a day. For the first time, Robbie and the readers got to meet Melia, Buck’s wife. She is a pediatrician and a very lovely lady, and they are adorable together. Melia wants to help Robbie now, as Buck credits Robbie for helping him with information on past cases. I hope to see more of Melia, as I really like her! All of the characters are defined per their roles, including Robbie’s staff, who work together like a fine-tuned musical instrument. I especially like how Sean, even as a teen, loves and respects Robbie and has his own special nickname for his stepmom.
Buck knows Robbie well, as she has helped him solve several murders, but he has no jurisdiction in Nashville. Without him in her corner, it will be hard for her to research or snoop on her own, as Buck won’t learn much about the case to share with her. It seems whenever Chief Harris tries to talk with Robbie, it is at the diner when she and her staff are swamped with customers. Harris is not happy that she won’t stop working to answer questions, so she and Robbie each have a ‘tude about the other.
Robbie has some special considerations this time as she tries to get answers about who may have killed her, challenges beyond being a newlywed, new step mom, and business owner. Those considerations won’t keep her from asking questions, but they do force her to take care of herself. Robbie usually makes a puzzle when working on a murder as it often helps her think through a case, but this time, it didn’t. The author kept me guessing throughout until it was clear who the killer was. Everything was wrapped up to perfection, leaving no open issues. I highly recommend this cozy mystery and series! Recipes are included.