Amish Candy Shop Mystery, Book #4
By Amanda Flower
Author Website: amandaflower.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Bailey King’s in New York wrapping up a six-week shoot on her first cable TV show, Bailey’s Amish Sweets, when she gets a call from her Ohio town’s resident busybody. With Easter around the corner, Bailey’s been recruited to create a giant toffee bunny for the weeklong springtime festival that will also feature live white rabbits. But back home in Harvest, death becomes the main attraction when Stephen Raber keels over from an apparent heart attack—with Bailey and Raber’s pet bunny as witnesses.
Except it wasn’t Raber’s heart that suddenly gave out—a lethal dose of lily of the valley was mixed into a tasty piece of toffee. Who’d want to poison a jovial rabbit farmer who reminded Bailey of an Amish Santa Claus? To solve the murder, she and her sheriff deputy boyfriend Aiden must uncover a twenty-year-old secret. She’ll need to pull a rabbit out of a hat to keep a healthy distance from toxic people, including one venomous killer . (Goodreads)
While a murder might not be considered delightful, this novel overall is. The characters are likable and well-rounded, the various pets are fascinating, and the mystery is definitely hard to solve. I like the setting of the predominantly Amish town, which the author demonstrates excellent knowledge of. There is also a healthy dose of humor, some of those this-could-only-happen-to-me moments that the author is adept at.
We start briefly in New York City at Bailey King’s former employer and mentor, Jean Pierre Ruge of JP Chocolates. She is in New York, along with her grandmother’s young cousin Charlotte, to film several episodes of Bailey’s Amish Sweet’s Candy Maker. They return to Harvest in Holmes County, Ohio, where she now lives with her beloved Maami (grandmother) Clara, and works at her grandparents’ shop, Swissmen Sweets, an Amish candy shop.
Easter is days away, and Margot Rawlings, an amazing fundraiser in Harvest, has a special request for Bailey, a master carver of chocolate creations. Margot is speaking with an Amish man who is holding a fluffy white bunny with a pink bow. Margot begins to describe what she really wants to put in the town square. If Bailey would kindly mold the largest ever toffee bunny, it will help tourism to Harvest. Why toffee? Her mother was raised in England and loved toffee, as does Margot. Suddenly Stephen, owner of Puff, the white bunny, puts Puff in Bailey’s arms, grabbed his chest, and fell over dead.
Bailey has been dating Aiden Brody, nicknamed Hot Cop by Bailey’s best friend Cass, is a sheriff’s deputy. His mother, Juliet, is convinced they are going to get married, trying to push Bailey to a June wedding. Juliet has a black and white spotted comfort pig named Jethro, and is good friends with Reverend Brook. Aiden was at the Reverend’s church when the call came in for Stephen’s collapse as someone came into the church during the night, leaving a big, sticky mess.
Bailey had helped give CPR to Stephen, but even the EMT’s could do nothing when they arrived. Aiden arrived quickly. Stephen had a heart problem, so it is assumed that was the cause of his death. Eli, Stephen’s son, came to Bailey’s house that night, stating that a mutual friend suggested he see Bailey to help him find his father’s murderer. For the past two weeks, threatening notes had been left in their phone shed, which he gave to Bailey. Each is worse than the preceding one. Stephen didn’t trust law enforcement and chose to wait it out. He said that Bailey could share them with Aiden, and as he left, plopped down Puff, his father’s favorite bunny, for Bailey to take care of. Bailey really doesn’t want to get into asking questions about one more murder. She wants to honor Aiden and her family, enjoy them, and work at the family candy shop, especially after so many weeks away.
As events unfold, and it is learned that Stephen was poisoned, Bailey did get involved. She couldn’t not get involved, especially since it seemed that the poison may have been prepared at the nearby church during the break-in for Stephen’s consumption. Bailey is threatened even as she tries to put together a huge toffee bunny while caring for a cuddly, wonderful rabbit in addition to her adorable cat, Nutmeg.
Each of the characters is well-demonstrated through realistic dialog and actions. I really enjoy Bailey as she navigates life in the town that now feels more like a home than the Big Apple ever did. I admire her dedication to her Maami, who I also like very much. Charlotte is fresh and exciting. While she has not yet been baptized, she learns about the Englisch world while not dishonoring her Amish faith. Most of the characters are very likable.
This was a challenging mystery to solve! Plot twists brought interesting changes in the story and the mystery. The story moves along at a fast, steady pace. It pulled me in from the first page and kept my attention throughout. I enjoyed the animals that are part of Amish country in general, and to the specific pets; they add to my interest in the novel. The setting of the Amish village also attracts me. I was very surprised to learn who the killer was and the real motives! Every loose end was addressed by the end of the novel, and this left me looking forward to the next in series. I highly recommend it!