A plan to create a winery in the bone-dry Mennonite hamlet of Hernia, Pa., provides a motive for murder.
PennDutch Inn owner Magdalena Yoder, the richest woman in town, is just one of the many neighbors with reason to kill Felicia Bacchustelli, a partner in Grape Expectations. When Felicia’s body is found, however, the inexperienced police chief naturally forgets that gossipy Magdalena (Assault and Pepper, 2005, etc.) is a suspect and prevails on her to investigate. He doesn’t care that Mag has troubles of her own: She’s trying to find a minister to marry her to her Jewish boyfriend Gabe Rosen, aka the Babester. Even so, she ricochets around town chatting up likely suspects while trying to keep the teen she’s raising out of trouble and dealing with her off-the-wall sister, her newly discovered half-sister and her eccentric Amish and Mennonite acquaintances. After nosy Agnes Mishler, whose brothers cavort in the nude, is found with a knife in her back, Mag’s interview with a suspect almost gets her crushed in a woodpile, but her brush with death finally leads her to a minister willing to wed her to the Babester.
Acidulous Magdalena’s fans will doubtless enjoy another of her tongue-in-cheek adventures amid The Plain People. But the mystery is meager, and kitchen divas should be warned that the obligatory recipes specify (gasp!) several prepackaged ingredients.