Lemon Drop Dead
Amish Candy Shop Mystery
By Amanda Flower
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Murder always leaves a sour taste . . .
Although baby showers aren’t an Amish tradition, Bailey King wants to celebrate Emily Keim’s forthcoming bundle of joy. It’s the least she can do for her hardworking assistant at Swissmen Sweets, especially with Emily being estranged from her siblings. Everyone in Harvest, Ohio has gathered at the town gazebo—decked out in lemon-themed décor to add some of Emily’s favorite flavor to the festivities—including Juliet Brook, Jethro the Pig, and in a last-minute invite, Emily’s sister Esther Esh.
But Esther isn’t the only surprise guest. A mysterious Amish woman confronts Emily claiming to know about her secret shame—the child she had as a teenager who was given up for adoption. The stranger vanishes before Bailey could find out who she was and if she knew what happened to Emily’s first baby. Later that evening, the woman reappears—dead in Esh Family Pretzels, with a threatening letter written by Esther found on her body.
Emily knows her sister is not a murderer and convinces Bailey to help clear Esther’s name and put the squeeze on the real killer . . . (from Goodreads)
How fun and intriguing it is to be back in the Amish community of Harvest, Ohio! The author delivers witty, caring, and talented characters who could step off the pages into real life. I appreciated Bailey’s love for her family, friends, and the animals around her. I also appreciate the way this novel invites me in on the first page and a mystery that keeps me guessing throughout.
Tourism continues to increase partially due to Bailey being part owner and manager of her family’s candy shop, Swissmen Sweets. A chocolatier who had worked at one of the best chocolate companies in New York City, Bailey came to Harvest to help her Amish grandparents when her grandfather became ill. She then stayed to help her grandmother Clara with the candy shop. She has been on Gourmet Television with her own show, Bailey’s Amish Sweets, so tour buses have added Harvest on their route.
One of the most popular treats at Swissmen Sweets is the Jethro bar in various types of chocolate. It is named after Juliet Brook’s emotional support pig. Juliet is the recent bride of Reverend Brook and the mother of Bailey’s boyfriend, Aiden, a deputy. Jethro, (AKA bacon bundle), has become well-known from his visits to Bailey’s show. No role is more important for him than bringing peace or joy to Juliet. He is also the source of much humor due to unintentional misbehavior, just “like a human toddler”.
Shop assistant and cousin to both Bailey and her grandmother, Clara, Charlotte is planning a baby shower for Emily, their other shop assistant and soon-to-be mother. Everyone in Harvest believe it to be her first baby; only a handful of people know her secret heartache of having a baby when she was a teenager and her daughter given to an anonymous Amish couple. Disowned by her sister Esther and brother Abel, her adoring husband Daniel is her only family.
Emily hoped Esther would come to the baby shower. Instead, a woman she doesn’t know arrives, congratulates Emily on her second baby and tells her that children should be together. She refuses to say who she is, but soon everybody will know.
Late that night, Esther, who doesn’t like Bailey, ran to her for help. A woman was on the floor in the back of Esther and Abel’s pretzel shop. It is the unknown woman who upset Emily at the party. She was on the floor in the kitchen with bruises around her neck, dead. There is a letter in her pocket from Esther, threatening her to stay away. Emily had told her husband about her daughter, but they haven’t spoken of it since.
No matter what their relationship has been, Emily doesn’t believe Esther could kill anyone, nor does she want her to go to jail. She begged Bailey to find who really killed the woman. Trying to find the killer takes Bailey and Charlotte all over Holmes County and neighboring Wayne County. Bailey even goes to the racetrack, where she also learns about troubles plaguing harness racing that takes place there.
In the meantime, Aiden has been offered a much better job with one little catch. They will have to live at least an hour, if not more, apart. While he would be much happier with the position and agency, it would put a huge damper on when they will continue to discuss getting married.
The author defines her characters with much more their appearance; we have a front row seat for their actions, expressions, and conversations. Being privy to Bailey’s thoughts rounds her out in many ways, including feelings that she rarely allows to show. Bailey is a very curious young woman, asking questions that many of us would want to, thereby bringing important information to light.
Plot twists and turns take Bailey on a wild ride, especially when she finds a little girl in need of foster care. I couldn’t figure out who killed the woman at the pretzel store but had an idea who was involved with the problems at the racetrack. All was revealed in good time as the author is adept at building intrigue and breathtaking scenes, and the surprising resolution left no loose ends. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries and Amish communities – and comfort pot-bellied pigs!