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Death by Deep Dish Pie: A Toadfern Mystery    by Sharon Short order for
Death by Deep Dish Pie
by Sharon Short
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Theresa Ichino

Josie Toadfern lives in Paradise, Ohio, a little bitty town of some 2000 inhabitants. Life hasn't always been easy for Josie. An orphan, she was reluctantly adopted by an aunt and uncle (no one else amongst her many relatives offered). Josie is obviously a strong and positive personality. She has not let misfortunes blight her attitude; and by the time of their deaths, her aunt and uncle have come to trust her completely. They bequeathed their cleaning business to Josie and named her the guardian of their son, who is autistic. Josie adores her cousin and is fiercely protective of him.

Despite her many responsibilities at a relatively young age (Josie is 29), she is happy with her life, her work, and her town. Josie treats every cleaning problem as a pleasant challenge and never forgets that its solution is important to the person depending on her expertise. Given that attitude, it is no surprise that she is caught up in the troubles surrounding the prominent Breitenstrater family. Not only is the Breitenstrater Pie Company vital to the economic life of the town, the Breitenstraters are also one of the founding families of Paradise. Now an ugly fight appears to be developing between family head Alan and his ne'er-do-well brother Cletus. Their struggle threatens the prosperity of the pie company and so the town itself.

When Alan falls dead, face-down in one of the company's pies, at the annual pie-eating contest, and the Founders' Day celebration itself is threatened, Josie finds that people she cares about, both family and friends, are being immediately affected by the problems of the Breitenstraters. She decides to take a hand. Death by Deep Dish Pie is a lively, entertaining read, with a feisty and energetic heroine. The author's tone is light, often tongue in cheek, and she delivers a pleasant diversion along with some helpful cleaning tips.

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