Peanut Butter Panic
Amish Candy Shop Mystery #7
By Amanda Flower
Author Website: amandaflower(.)com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Thanksgiving is Bailey King’s busiest holiday weekend. This year promises to be even more hectic, since Bailey’s candy shop, Swissmen Sweets, is providing desserts for Harvest, Ohio’s first village-wide Thanksgiving celebration. Yet, even with a guest list close to seven hundred people—Amish and English alike—the event’s organizer, Margot Rawlings, is unfazed . . . until she discovers her mother, former judge Zara Bevan, will be in attendance.
Zara’s reputation as a harsh critic is matched only by her infamy as a judge who has actively harmed the Amish community. So no one is prepared when Zara arrives with much younger boyfriend Blaze Smiand reveals their impending nuptials at dinner. That should have been the day’s biggest news, except shortly after the announcement, Blaze suffers an allergic reaction to something he’s eaten and dies on the spot.
Now, Bailey’s desserts are prime suspects, along with Margot and nearly everyone who attended the meal. With such a cornucopia of possibilities, Bailey must dig in and get to the bottom of this murder, before the killer goes up for seconds. (Goodreads)
I enjoyed every page of this delightful novel! The characters and setting are so well defined that if I were to walk down the main street of the Amish village of Harvest, Ohio, I would feel as if I were home. Many of the characters are fun to be around. Most are cheerful and friendly and share the gift of their laughter. A few are stern, unbending, and prickly. Almost all are hard-working, considerate, and loyal.
The day before Thanksgiving, preparations were almost complete for the community dinner for which Margot has been the chief organizer. Bailey was filling in for Margot for a couple hours despite how much work she needs to complete today. Bailey is her grandmother’s partner in Swissmen Sweets, the Amish candy shop her grandparents started over 60 years ago. Margot was picking up her mother, Zara, at the airport. Zara had been the first woman judge in Holmes County. It would be her first trip to Harvest since retiring to Florida. Margot was beside herself; Zara still made it known what a disappointment her daughter was to her. She didn’t want her mother to ruin what she had worked so hard to achieve for the anticipated 800 Amish and English guests.
Margot returned to the village square even more upset than when she left. Zara brought her boyfriend, Blaze, a handsome man young enough to be Margot’s son. Zara was as rude and outspoken as everyone remembered. Bailey and others who either didn’t live in Harvest at the time or were too young to remember Zara were shocked.
Ruth, the bishop’s wife, told Bailey that if Zara was attending the dinner, she would ask her husband to keep the Amish of their district away. Zara disliked the Amish and ruined several of their lives. She had sentenced several Amish men and women for much longer than any English would have been.
On Thanksgiving, Blaze tried to flirt with Bailey, who didn’t reciprocate. She learned that Blaze had a severe peanut allergy and made sure her signs were up around the desserts her shop provided stating they were made with the same equipment as items containing nut and gluten. She warned him to avoid a condiment the Amish call church spread that is on every table, made from marshmallow fluff and peanut butter.
Zara announced to the table where she, Blaze, Margot, Bailey, and many others were seated that she and Blaze would be getting married on Christmas, which devastated Margot and stunned many others. Margot had words with Zara, convinced Blaze was only after her money. Shortly afterwards, Blaze had a severe allergic reaction, and his epi-pen was not in his satchel. Before EMT’s could arrive, he stopped breathing and died. It was later verified that he had ingested something with peanuts.
Zara wanted Bailey to find the person who killed Blaze, as she heard Bailey had found other murderers. They both knew Margot would be considered a suspect, in part due to Blaze getting much of her Zara’s considerable estate. Bailey finally agreed to keep eyes and ears open. Zara gave her the names of three Amish men that she should investigate.
Bailey’s hands were full already, as she was studying the feasibility of expanding the business. She had increasing concerns about the long-distance relationship she and boyfriend Aiden have had since he took a job offer out of town. This weekend was the busiest of the season for retail businesses, whether local or on-line, so keeping enough candy made was a challenge.
Characters have been continually developed as the series progresses. Most of them change and grow, and all are defined as their role requires. I enjoy Bailey, her grandmother Clara, and her cousin Charlotte the most. They work well together at Swissmen Sweets and are friends as well as co-workers. I enjoy the antics of the various pets, including Puff, Bailey’s rabbit, and Jethro, the polka-dotted comfort pig (aka bacon bundle) owned by Juliet, Aiden’s mother.
The mystery has been perfectly executed. Plot twists and turns kept me guessing who the bad guy or gal was throughout, with one huge twist that changed the entire mystery. My suspect list was quite short after that, and there were still more surprises. Overall, the novel and solution were completely satisfying. The author is outstanding at bringing to life eclectic (and eccentric!) characters, pets, and laugh out loud scenes, and I am looking forward to the next one. I highly recommend this novel and the rest of the series!