Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Delightful hook combined with fun characters and a good puzzle
Cons: Robbie’s restaurant isn’t real
The Bottom Line:
A hard to like prof
Meets cold end leaving Robbie
To track down killer
Robbie Gets into the Nitty Gritty of another Murder
Every series I love includes a great premise, strong characters, and compelling plots. But sometimes, one of those stands out to me more than others. In the case of the Country Store Mysteries, I absolutely love the setting, so I was thrilled to be visiting Robbie Jordan again in When the Grits Hit the Fan.
You see, Robbie owns a breakfast/lunch restaurant in a small Indiana town. Right there, you have me hooked. I’d absolutely love to visit a place like this. She also has some vintage kitchen items that she displays and even sells, but that restaurant is the main part of her business.
This book opens in February, and Robbie’s business has taken a hit with the cold winter. While her regulars are still faithfully coming in, the lack of tourists is making things a little slow. In order to supplement her winter income, she’s agreed to host a twice monthly gathering of the sociology department from the nearby college. However, this particular Friday, things end on a contentious note as two people get into fights with one of the professors, Charles Stilton.
The next day, Robbie is looking to get some exercise, so she heads out with her friend Lou, one of the attendees at the dinner the night before. They are snowshoeing around the nearby lake when they find Charles frozen under the ice. After Lou’s fight with Charles the night before, the police naturally consider her a person of interest. The thing is, very few people actually liked Charles, so surely there is someone with a better motive. Can Robbie find that person and clear Lou’s name?
I already raved about the setting, but I really do like how author Maddie Day makes use of it in her plotting. Robbie’s restaurant is gossip central in town, so she can often gain information while she works. And since she serves breakfast and lunch only, it gives her plenty of time to sleuth in the late afternoon and evening.
As the police lament at one point, the difficulty with this case is the large number of suspects and the lack of clues. This means I never once got bored since something was always happening to move the story forward. As we near the climax, we do start to eliminate some suspects, so by the time Robbie figures everyone out, it makes perfect sense. The climax? It’s a page turner.
And yes, I love the characters, too. Robbie is a strong main character who tries to balance her nosiness with common sense. We were introduced to a new love interest for her in the last book, and I really like him. Robbie’s employee is still just as charming, too. A couple of the supporting cast weren’t around as much as in previous books, and I found I missed them, but that’s a minor issue. The new cast of suspects were strong and kept us guessing until the end.
There’s a very fun inside wink at one point in this book. It helps to remember that Maddie Day is a pen name for author Edith Maxwell. That’s the only clue you’re getting from me.
My mouth was drooling the entire time I read this book. If you are like me, you’ll be happy to find recipes at the end of the book. They range from grits with cheese to an omelet, an Italian soup, and pork chops with Sorghrum Sauce.
When the Grits Hit the Fan is another delicious mystery. I devoured it all too quickly, leaving me hungry for my next visit. If you haven’t started this series yet, you need to meet Robbie. And if you already like the series, you’ll enjoy this third visit.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.