Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book Review: Too Many Crooks Spoil The Broth

Author:Tamar Myers
Title:Too Many Crooks Spoil The Broth
Publish Date: August 1, 1995
Buy: Amazon
Book Blurb: In the first book of a wickedly funny new mystery series, Tamar Myers has created a memorable cast of eccentric characters and spiked her plot with a tasty selection of authentic Pennsylvania Dutch recipes. Magdalena Yoder, practical Mennonite proprietor of the determinedly quaint PennDutch Inn, has succeeded in converting a tranquil family farm into a thriving hostelry catering to sophisticated urbanites with a yen for charm and Amish ambience. With rooms in constant demand, Magdalena is usually able to select a compatible group of guests from her permanent waiting list. But a touchy situation develops when an arrogant congressman, his elegant wife, and an eager aide arrive for the start of deer hunting season, and a second contingent of customers turns out to be a curious assortment of animal rights activists. Then one strangely reclusive visitor is found dead, apparently as the result of a fall down Magdalena's quaintly steep staircase. Worried about lawsuits, infuriated by her wayward sister, attracted to one rough-edged reformed hunter, Magdalena does her best to mediate the conflicts between finicky vegetarian diners and a stubborn Amish cook, and to puzzle out the complex personal connections among her divergent group of visitors. With the kitchen a battleground between culinary lifestyles, Magdalena prevails upon her guests to cook the second night's dinner. The result is a farcical communal meal - and another death, this one no more an accident than the first turns out to have been. Everyone at the inn is under suspicion, including a most perplexed proprietor, whose stolid good nature won't stretch much farther.

Review: Too Many Crooks Spoil The Broth is the first book in the Pennsylvania Dutch mystery series. Be proud! I'm reading this series in order! Before I review this book, I have to say, if you are knowledgeable  of the Amish or Mennonite culture, you might want to pass on this series, cos Tamar seemed to be getting her religions muddled from time to time.

If you can get passed that, this is a hilarious start to a series. Magdalena is such a squirrelly woman. It is absolutely hard to believe she runs a B & B. She really doesn't come across as a people person, especially as she is more worried about the law suits that might be filed than the two people that end up dead in her B & B!

I've always found that the first books in cozy mystery series spend a lot of time introducing you to the secondary characters, and this book is no exception. We meet Magdalena's lazy sister, Savannah, (who also gets around with men) and Mose and Freni, the Amish couple that take care of the animals and do the cooking. Freni quits or is fired at least 20 times in the book.

These characters really bring the humor to this book. The mystery, is a bit slow, with the first dead body coming at almost the halfway point in the novel. However, I didn't really find the pacing slow. I liked getting to know the characters in Hernia, PA.

The other thing I really liked was the setting of the story. It wasn't in Lancaster County, which is where a large group of Amish and Mennonites make their home. Instead, Hernia, is a town somewhere between Somerset and Breezewood. I love reading about places that I know about, it gives me the warm fuzzies. I can see the Allegheny mountains and the turnpike.

The guests at the B & B were interesting too. A congressman and his wife, who were there to hunt deer and a group of animal rights activists. Just knowing that was enough to make me turn the pages, because you knew there was going to be a lot of conflict, as well as murder. This group ranged from rather nice (Joel) to downright obnoxious (the congressman and Jeannette).

There's definitely more than meets the eye with these people and that's what made this book so much fun to read. I can't wait to get book 2!

Rating: 4 flowers


Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer said...

This sounds good..but muddled facts make me leary

The Mistress of the Dark said...

If you aren't familiar with the Amish, the muddled facts won't bother you. I've been around Amish and Mennonites and I know that though they speak a form of German, they don't speak with a German accent.

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