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Assault and Pepper: A Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery    by Tamar Myers order for
Assault and Pepper
by Tamar Myers
Order:  USA  Can
Signet, 2006 (2005)
Hardcover, Paperback

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Reverend Schrock falls facedown into a pot of homemade chili at the Beechy Grove Mennonite Church during their annual chili supper cook-off. Heart attack? Not a chance. The Reverend, highly allergic to peanuts - a fact of which the whole town was aware - ingested a spoonful of chili spiked with a soupcon of peanut butter. As the Reverend held the position of judge for the simmering pots of savory stews, he was sure to take a lethal mouthful.

Magdelena Portulaca Yoder, owner and manager of a full board inn in the town of Hernia in central Pennsylvania, embarks on her own investigation despite the imprecations of her brother-in-law, the local sheriff, who wants her to cease and desist. Anyone who knows Magdelena knows she considers her sister's husband a complete fool. And who would follow orders from the town idiot? Certainly not Magdelena.

In this, the fourteenth of the Pennsylvania Dutch Mysteries with Recipes, Magdelena is as sharp-witted as ever. Also irreverent, nosy, and bossy. She believes in being blunt, but is also sensitive and generous to those less fortunate than herself.

Reading any of this series brings the reader into the world of the Mennonites - a branch of the Amish - and into the range of Magdelena's sharp tongue. One-liners abound as always, but at times they seem to take over the whole book. The solving of the Reverend's murder is clever but one wonders where the series will go from here. The chili recipes appear out of the blue between chapters and, for me, take the focus off the plot. Still it's a fun series. Light, amusing and diverts the reader from the everyday world.

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