When the Grits Hit the Fan
Book 3, A Country Store Mystery
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Despite the bitter winter in South Lick, Indiana, business is still hot at Robbie Jordan’s restaurant. But when another murder rattles the small town, can Robbie defrost the motives of a cold-blooded killer?
Before she started hosting dinners for Indiana University’s Sociology Department at Pans ‘N Pancakes, Robbie never imagined scholarly meetings could be so hostile. It’s all due to Professor Charles Stilton, who seems to thrive on heated exchanges with his peers and underlings, and tensions flare one night after he disrespects Robbie’s friend, graduate student Lou. So when Robbie and Lou go snowshoeing the next morning and find the contentious academic frozen under ice, police suspect Lou might have killed him after their public tiff. To prove her friend’s innocence, Robbie is absorbing local gossip about Professor Stilton’s past and developing her own thesis on the homicide—even if that means stirring up terrible danger for herself along the way . . .
Third book in series!
When the Grits Hit the Fan by Maddie Day is the third A Country Store Mystery series. Robbie Jordan owns the Pans ‘N Pancakes in South Lick, Indiana. The restaurant is full of graduate students and professors from Indiana University’s Sociology Department. Robbie’s friend, Lou Perlman is having a heated conversation with Professor Charles Stilton. Professor Stilton had been Lou’s advisor for her research paper, but he recently had his own paper accepted for publication on the same topic. He claims that it was parallel research, but Lou states he stole her material. New department head, Dr. Zenobia “Zen” Brown manages to settle the group, before it breaks up for the night. The next day Lou and Robbie decide to get some exercise and head out on snowshoes for a walk in the woods. They end up at Crooked Lake, and Robbie notices an ice fishing hole. Robbie has not seen one previously and peers in to check out the fish. Instead of fish swimming under the ice, Robbie finds Dr. Stilton swimming with the fishes (I couldn’t resist). It turns out that Dr. Stilton had a habit of angering others which makes for a long suspect list. Unfortunately, Lou is at the top of that list. While business is slow (because of the winter weather), Robbie is working on remodeling the second floor of her building. She wants to turn it into a bed and breakfast. She has been finding a variety of objects inside the walls including newspapers and vintage shoes. Robbie must put her remodeling plans on hold when Lou is bumped up to prime suspect. Robbie starts delving into Charles Stilton’s life and history to find out who made him fish bait. One person is not happy with Robbie’s meddling and sets out to stop her from discovering the truth.
When the Grits Hit the Fan is an entertaining cozy mystery. I found the book to be nicely written, easy to read, and it has a good flow. I enjoyed the characters and the setting. I like in the descriptions of the old kitchenware items that Robbie has on display in the restaurant (I love antiques and vintage items). When the Grits Hit the Fan is the third book in A Country Store Mystery series, but it can easily be read alone. The author provides background details on Robbie and her business. I give When the Grits Hit the Fan 3.5 out of 5 stars. There are two mysteries in the book, and I appreciated how the author tied them together. I just wish the solution to both crimes had not been so simple. I was hoping there would be a nice surprise twist at the end that would leave me by flummoxed. I did find that some information was repeated a few times over the course of the novel. This cozy mystery is a little more cozy than mystery. It is nice, though, to revisit South Lick, Indiana and get updates on the citizens that populate this quaint town. There are recipes at the end of the book. The next book in A Country Store Mystery series is Biscuits and Slashed Browns!
This series is working into a solid favorite with a solid sense of place, a few clever recipes and p
My favorite of the two I’ve read, Robbie’s story is reaching for, and achieving the promise so prevalent earlier in the series. Winter has come and things are cold and frosty, but inside the walls of Pans ‘n’ Pancakes, the cozy welcome hits all who enter. She’s offered to host the University’s Sociology department two evenings a week – hoping the discussions will be interesting and benefit the business and her expansion plans with a much-needed infusion of cash. Surprised by the infighting and hostility of these meetings, she’s off snowshoeing with her friend Lou when they discover a body. Under Ice. In a pond. Of course, Lou had words with the now-dead man, and as everyone runs to cover their own tracks, her guilt increases.
Now, Robbie knows that Lou had no hand in the murder, but she’s been fairly successful in her earlier investigations, so why not nose around and see what she can discover. And could it all be connected to the discoveries she’s making as she digs in to expand the shop to a B&B, or the secret tunnel to the barn. A barn with secrets of its own to conceal?
Robbie has found her place in this little town, and built quite a series of friendships and respect, even from those who first doubted her ability. The shop was the best move she made, and the opportunities and possibilities that she imagines are exciting. Since she “just” owns a small café and store, many people discount the clever woman behind the apron: she’s good at putting pieces together and discovering answers, and she’s decided she NEEDS to know the answers to the questions uncovered in this story. Secondary characters are clever, the culprit is well-disguised and the secrets (some long buried) in this small town are never safe from a determined sleuth. This series is working into a solid favorite with a solid sense of place, a few clever recipes and plenty of intrigue to keep the pages turning.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.