Avon, July 2004, 6.50, 272 pp.
The small Ohio town of Paradise is home to Josie Toadfern, owner of Toadfern's Laundromat and an expert in removing stains. Paradise is a small town where the leading family, the Breitenstraters own the town's main business, the Breitenstrater Pie Factory. Josie is looking forward to the annual pie-eating contest but the day is marred when Alan Breitenstrates dies after eating a pie that was originally meant for his brother Cletus. Cletus never showed up for the event even though he attended it every year for decades.
Josie, who was watching the scenario, casually, asks her boyfriend and her best friend to take the pies and bring them back to the Laundromat while she distracts the police and a security guard. Though the authorities think the victim died of a heart attack, Josie wants to get the pies tested to see if they contained poison. When a ferret eats a piece of one of the pies and falls into a coma, Josie is sure that at least one of the pies is poisoned. She intends to find out who poisoned the pie thinking that information will lead her to a killer.
Shannon Short's second Toadfern mystery is very delightful and a real puzzler because no one is above suspicion in this charming cozy. The cast of characters are totally charming and quirky, the type of people one would want for a next-door neighbor. DEATH OF A DEER DISH PIE is an upbeat who-done-it that will have readers laughing at some of the actors of the main characters, including the protagonist.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner