No Grater Crime
Country Store Mystery #9
By Maddie Day
Author’s website: edithmaxwell.com/Maddie-day/
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Jeanie
Robbie Jordan’s Pans ‘N Pancakes boasts delicious eats and the best vintage cookware finds in South Lick, Indiana. And now, for a limited time, there’s a new special featured on the menu–murder!
Ever since meeting the wary owners of an antique shop opening across the street, Robbie has been scrambling to manage weird incidences plaguing her café and country store. Pricey items vanish from shelves without explanation, a fully equipped breakfast food truck starts lingering around the area each morning, and loyal diners mysteriously fall ill. When an elderly man dies after devouring an omelet packed with poisonous mushrooms, Robbie must temporarily close down Pans ‘N Pancakes and search for the killer with a real zest for running her out of business–or else.
This is one of the best mysteries in the series! The crime is very personal this time and kept me guessing and second-guessing at every twist and turn. Characters are dynamic in that they change and grow through life experiences. The setting of springtime in Indiana sounds so appealing, especially as the author invites us to see and hear the birds on Robbie’s bicycle travels.
Robbie and Abe’s wedding is only about a month away, and ideally, she should be putting last minute preparations in place. Her perfect wedding dress has been selected, and Aunt Adele’s sheep farm is providing the perfect venue for the wedding and reception. Instead, a crisis at her country store and restaurant, Pans ‘N Pancakes, keeps her attention.
Adele and Robbie went to an antique fair in another town, and Robbie hoped to find more vintage kitchenware to sell in her country store. While there, they ran into a man who had held a serious grudge against Adele for over twenty years, Francis, and his second wife, Hattie. Hattie said they were opening a high-end antique shop in South Lick, and it is in the recently renovated old home Robbie’s store. Francis and Hattie had been owners of FH Foods, the wholesaler that Robbie and many restaurants in the area purchased from. Their son-in-law now runs it.
Trouble started the next day. Francis and Hattie came in for breakfast, and all the graters Robbie purchased at the antique fair were gone. Neither Robbie nor her staff, Danna and Turner, had sold even one of them. Robbie did notice that the huge, quilted bag Hattie carried looked quite full, but could not see what was in it. She determined to keep a close eye on Hattie in the future.
Their wholesaler, FH Foods, had not delivered enough of some items to cover their breakfast shift, including potatoes and mushrooms. They had more business than usual for a Sunday morning, including a tour van that brought about twenty tourists who thoroughly enjoyed their meal. Buck, our favorite local lieutenant with the huge appetite seemed somewhat unwell when he left. Despite his cast iron tummy, he had indigestion.
Buck and his cousin Wanda, a detective for the local sheriff’s department, came in for lunch. He and Wanda were getting information on their phones from a doctor at an urgent care facility in a nearby town. Several tourists had gone in feeling poorly. The one thing they had in common was having had the mushroom omelet at Robbie’s. All except one would be fine. An elderly man had been sent to the university hospital where he later died. The health department shut down Robbie’s dream business. Not long after, Buck told Robbie she needed to get an attorney, as the elderly man’s children wanted Robbie charged – with negligent homicide.
The day after Robbie was shut down, a food truck called KK’s Sandos opened for business across the street, in front of new antique shop. While it was typically the only day of the week Robbie is closed to have a day off, it seems unusual that it opens now, especially when Krystal, Francis’s daughter, is the operator of the truck and is serving breakfast and lunch, as Robbie typically would.
If I were in the Midwest, I would have to look twice if I saw two young women bicycling together to see if it was Robbie and her friend Lou. They could step off the pages into real life; it feels as if Robbie, Adele, and others in South Lick are like old friends with this reader. They are active, hard-working, and do not fit into a mold of a typical small town, Midwest person.
This very compelling read includes elements that make it a real page-turner! Robbie keeps herself on track for their wedding and trying to reopen her restaurant while continuing to seek the bad guy. There are several possible suspects, but would any of them risk their livelihoods and for what gain? I was startled to see who the bad guy really was and why. All loose ends were tied up, and I am looking forward to the next in series! I highly recommend this cozy mystery; it can be read as a standalone or as part of the series.