Death by Deep Dish Pie (Toadfern Mystery Series)

( 5 )

Overview

Like nearly everyone else in Paradise, Ohio, local laundromat owner and stain-removal expert Josie Toadfern eagerly awaits the upcoming July 4th Founders Day celebration with its highlight, the annual Breitenstrater Pie Company pie-eating content, sponsored by the owners of the town's upper curst enterprise. But things may not be so sweet this year, what with juicy rumors flying that a black sheep Breitenstrater wants to spill the beans about some deep, dark family secret. And when a pie-making bigwig ...

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Death by Deep Dish Pie: A Toadfern Mystery

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Overview

Like nearly everyone else in Paradise, Ohio, local laundromat owner and stain-removal expert Josie Toadfern eagerly awaits the upcoming July 4th Founders Day celebration with its highlight, the annual Breitenstrater Pie Company pie-eating content, sponsored by the owners of the town's upper curst enterprise. But things may not be so sweet this year, what with juicy rumors flying that a black sheep Breitenstrater wants to spill the beans about some deep, dark family secret. And when a pie-making bigwig suspiciously drops dead after sampling the company's latest wares, Josie leaps into action. She loves her teeny-weeny community, despite its blemishes—and any stain on its reputation must be eradicated! But if she sticks her thumb—or her nose—into this particular pastry, she's going to pull our more thank a plum...and she may end up getting her own lethal just desserts.

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Editorial Reviews

Romantic TimesBOOKclub
"[A] page-turning mystery."
Jill Churchill
“Sharon Short’s Josie Toadfern is wonderfully quirky.”
Mary Kay Andrews
“DEATH OF A DOMESTIC DIVA is an immaculate conception, and more importantly, good clean fun!”
Romantic Times BOOKclub
“[A] page-turning mystery.”
Oakland Press
“Engaging...a tasty treat.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060537975
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/29/2004
  • Series: Toadfern Mystery Series , #2
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 726,939
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Sharon Short's humor column, "Sanity Check," appears every Monday in the Dayton Daily News. Her fiction credits include several short mysteries published in Murderous Intent Mystery Magazine and Orchard Press Online Mystery Magazine. In addition, Ms. Short is a principal of her own marketing communications firm and has a bachelor's and a master's degree in English. She lives in Miamisburg, Ohio, with her husband and two daughters.

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Read an Excerpt

Death by Deep Dish Pie

A Toadfern Mystery
By Short, Sharon

Avon Books

ISBN: 0060537973

Chapter One

Secrets have a way of taking on lives of their own.

That's because the true nature of secrets is that they don't want to be secret. They want to be revealed for what they really are: the truth.

And truth be told, secrets are a lot like stains. Take, say, a pair of work pants that are grease covered. You've got to face the mess and deal with it. (I recommend pretreating grease stains with rubbing alcohol. Or just pouring a can of cola -- I prefer Big Fizz -- with your laundry detergent on your grease-stained clothes. Believe it or not, this works.) Or else you end up with a nasty stain that's even worse than the original mess.

Truth is like that. No matter how ugly it is, it's better to deal with it right away. Or else you end up with a nasty secret that's going to be harder to deal with than the truth.

Believe me, I know a lot about stains.

I'm Josie Toadfern, owner of Toadfern's Laundromat, the only laundromat in Paradise, Ohio. I'm a self-taught stain expert and proud of it. Best stain expert in all of Mason County. Maybe in all of Ohio. Maybe even in all of the United States of America.

And up until a month or so ago, I thought I was also an expert in everything there is to know about Paradise, Ohio. After all, how much can there be to know about a town of 2,617 in southern Ohio?

But that was early June, before Trudy Breitenstrater walked into my laundromat for the sixth time in a week, and I decided to take pity on her. In those last peaceful moments -- before the bell dinged over my door and fate trounced in with a ferret, a frown, and a basket of black laundry -- I wasn't thinking about secrets or truth at all.

For one thing, it was too hot -- even with my ceiling fans and two big floor fans -- to think about things like that.

For another, I was concentrating on helping the Widow Beavy, my only customer at that moment, with her favorite blouse for going to church at the Second Reformed Baptist Church of the Reformation, out on Sawmill Road.

Now, I knew -- because in a town like Paradise, you know these kinds of things whether you want to or not -- that this blouse was real important to Mrs. Beavy. It was pale pink, with ruffles down the front, and lace all around the highneck collar and the wrists, and faux-pearl buttons that Mrs. Beavy kept nice-looking with the occasional dab of pearlpink nail polish (something I'd suggested to her.)

The blouse had been a birthday gift, five years ago, from Mr. Beavy, just two days before he died while mowing the cemetery behind the church. Mr. Beavy had a stroke, lost control of his riding lawn mower and plunged right on down the hill into the side of the Breitenstrater crypt -- which holds all the Breitenstrater remains all the way back to the original Breitenstraters, who founded our town and started the Breitenstrater Pie Company, one of Paradise's major employers. The crypt was cracked and Mr. Beavy, God rest his soul, died on the spot. No one was ever sure which really came first, the stroke or the crack.

Anyhow, on the day when Widow Beavy was in my laundromat, her hand quivered as she pointed at the pinkishbrown stain that bloomed smack dab in the center of where her left bosom would, should she put on the blouse, turn the stain into an unfortunately placed bull's-eye.

"I thought I got it out," she said, tearfully. "At least, the stain was gone when I left for church last Sunday morning. I rinsed it out, knowing it would dry by the time I got to church. But then it reappeared right as we were singing 'Precious Redeemer,' and Betty Lou Johnson stared right at the spot, like maybe it was one of those images of Jesus that show up in the oddest places -- you know, like in the cellophane covering the top of a Jell-O salad?"

Personally, I've never seen Jesus in a Jell-O salad, but then I go to the Paradise United Methodist church (out on Plum Street), which might account for my lack of vision.

"You sure this stain is blood?" I asked. Mrs. Beavy had confessed to me that she'd had a nose bleed and had rinsed the blood out of the blouse in cold water, just as she was supposed to. But the stain looked too pinkish to be blood, which usually dries with a brownish tinge.

"I'm sorry dearie, what did you say?" Mrs. Beavy was now staring up at the television mounted on the wall near the door. I pride myself in offering several such amenities, besides of course drop-off laundering services, a delivery service, and twelve washers and dryers -- two of each in the jumbo size. I have well-stocked pop and snack machines, a kiddie area with a plastic picnic table and coloring books and paper and washable markers (I'd had crayons out until Tommy Gettlehorn had tossed a whole pack into the dryer with his daddy's prison guard uniforms), a shelf of paperback books, and a table set up with free coffee in the cool months and a thermos of free ice water in the hot months.

Earlier the TV had been on As Our Lives Bloom (Mrs. Beavy's favorite soap opera) but was now on the afternoon news. There was yet another report about a large company that had secretly overpromised what it could deliver so that an even bigger company would buy it out so that stockholders would make a ton of money. In the end, the company had to lay off workers before finally going bankrupt -- with all the workers, except, somehow, the top management, losing all of their retirement money. Not the kind of thing that could happen in Paradise, Ohio.

Continues...

Excerpted from Death by Deep Dish Pie by Short, Sharon Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Death by Deep Dish Pie
A Toadfern Mystery

Chapter One

Secrets have a way of taking on lives of their own.

That's because the true nature of secrets is that they don't want to be secret. They want to be revealed for what they really are: the truth.

And truth be told, secrets are a lot like stains. Take, say, a pair of work pants that are grease covered. You've got to face the mess and deal with it. (I recommend pretreating grease stains with rubbing alcohol. Or just pouring a can of cola -- I prefer Big Fizz -- with your laundry detergent on your grease-stained clothes. Believe it or not, this works.) Or else you end up with a nasty stain that's even worse than the original mess.

Truth is like that. No matter how ugly it is, it's better to deal with it right away. Or else you end up with a nasty secret that's going to be harder to deal with than the truth.

Believe me, I know a lot about stains.

I'm Josie Toadfern, owner of Toadfern's Laundromat, the only laundromat in Paradise, Ohio. I'm a self-taught stain expert and proud of it. Best stain expert in all of Mason County. Maybe in all of Ohio. Maybe even in all of the United States of America.

And up until a month or so ago, I thought I was also an expert in everything there is to know about Paradise, Ohio. After all, how much can there be to know about a town of 2,617 in southern Ohio?

But that was early June, before Trudy Breitenstrater walked into my laundromat for the sixth time in a week, and I decided to take pity on her. In those last peaceful moments -- before the bell dinged over my door and fate trounced in with a ferret, a frown, and a basket of black laundry -- I wasn't thinking about secrets or truth at all.

For one thing, it was too hot -- even with my ceiling fans and two big floor fans -- to think about things like that.

For another, I was concentrating on helping the Widow Beavy, my only customer at that moment, with her favorite blouse for going to church at the Second Reformed Baptist Church of the Reformation, out on Sawmill Road.

Now, I knew -- because in a town like Paradise, you know these kinds of things whether you want to or not -- that this blouse was real important to Mrs. Beavy. It was pale pink, with ruffles down the front, and lace all around the highneck collar and the wrists, and faux-pearl buttons that Mrs. Beavy kept nice-looking with the occasional dab of pearlpink nail polish (something I'd suggested to her.)

The blouse had been a birthday gift, five years ago, from Mr. Beavy, just two days before he died while mowing the cemetery behind the church. Mr. Beavy had a stroke, lost control of his riding lawn mower and plunged right on down the hill into the side of the Breitenstrater crypt -- which holds all the Breitenstrater remains all the way back to the original Breitenstraters, who founded our town and started the Breitenstrater Pie Company, one of Paradise's major employers. The crypt was cracked and Mr. Beavy, God rest his soul, died on the spot. No one was ever sure which really came first, the stroke or the crack.

Anyhow, on the day when Widow Beavy was in my laundromat, her hand quivered as she pointed at the pinkishbrown stain that bloomed smack dab in the center of where her left bosom would, should she put on the blouse, turn the stain into an unfortunately placed bull's-eye.

"I thought I got it out," she said, tearfully. "At least, the stain was gone when I left for church last Sunday morning. I rinsed it out, knowing it would dry by the time I got to church. But then it reappeared right as we were singing 'Precious Redeemer,' and Betty Lou Johnson stared right at the spot, like maybe it was one of those images of Jesus that show up in the oddest places -- you know, like in the cellophane covering the top of a Jell-O salad?"

Personally, I've never seen Jesus in a Jell-O salad, but then I go to the Paradise United Methodist church (out on Plum Street), which might account for my lack of vision.

"You sure this stain is blood?" I asked. Mrs. Beavy had confessed to me that she'd had a nose bleed and had rinsed the blood out of the blouse in cold water, just as she was supposed to. But the stain looked too pinkish to be blood, which usually dries with a brownish tinge.

"I'm sorry dearie, what did you say?" Mrs. Beavy was now staring up at the television mounted on the wall near the door. I pride myself in offering several such amenities, besides of course drop-off laundering services, a delivery service, and twelve washers and dryers -- two of each in the jumbo size. I have well-stocked pop and snack machines, a kiddie area with a plastic picnic table and coloring books and paper and washable markers (I'd had crayons out until Tommy Gettlehorn had tossed a whole pack into the dryer with his daddy's prison guard uniforms), a shelf of paperback books, and a table set up with free coffee in the cool months and a thermos of free ice water in the hot months.

Earlier the TV had been on As Our Lives Bloom (Mrs. Beavy's favorite soap opera) but was now on the afternoon news. There was yet another report about a large company that had secretly overpromised what it could deliver so that an even bigger company would buy it out so that stockholders would make a ton of money. In the end, the company had to lay off workers before finally going bankrupt -- with all the workers, except, somehow, the top management, losing all of their retirement money. Not the kind of thing that could happen in Paradise, Ohio.

Death by Deep Dish Pie
A Toadfern Mystery
. Copyright © by Sharon Short. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2013

    missing laundromat!

    The word laundromat is so obviouly missing in this story about a woman running a laundromat.
    Other than that its a good read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2013

    R

    The overview is for another author & book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2004

    Mystery and adventure...

    In Paradise, Ohio, the annual July 4th Founders Day Celebration is the highlight of the year. The biggest event is the pie eating competition sponsored by the Breitenstrater Pie Company. Only this year's contest will be one that no one will ever forget! ...................... When an executive dies during the contest, rumors of murder surface. That is when local laundromat owner, Josie Toadfern, and her circle of friends jump into the mix. But what Josie does not know is that there is a deep, dark family secret lingering in the air that may very well shock all those around. ............... **** This is a story that just begs readers to come get lost in Paradise and all the people that life there. The characters are full of flavor and wit. I found it to be amusing and charming, all at once. A 'must read' for mystery fans. ****

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2004

    Was it a heart attack or murder?

    Everyone in Paradise, Ohio, is eagerly awaiting the upcoming July 4th Founders Day Celebration. Trudy Breitenstrater is a mixed up youth who gets local laundromat owner and stain removal expert Josie Toadfern to sponsor her to the Paradise Historical Society meeting. At this meeting the Paradise Town Hall Players usually each get their parts for the upcoming July Fourth Breitenstrater Founder¿s Day play. Seems Trudy has rewritten the town play, unbeknownst to Josie. No one seems too happy about this. Especially her father, Alan. Then Alan announces that at the annual pie eating contest sponsored by the Breitenstrater Pie Company, he will be making a big announcement. His brother Cletus says that he has one too. Since Josie¿s uncle Otis has walked off the renovation job at the Paradise Theatre, she steps in to help her cousin Sally complete the job before July 4th. At the pie eating contest, Cletus is no where to be found, so Alan steps into his place. Unfortunately Alan ends up dead before he can make his announcement. Apparent heart attack, but Josie thinks the timing smells of murder. But, can she figure out what really happened. She enlists her friend Winnie to do some research. She also gets her boyfriend Owen to help, but only minimally because he has recently lied and she isn¿t sure what her feelings are for him anymore. This is just one of the many things going on to sidetrack Josie. Many things begin to happen. Josie is right in the middle of most of them trying to uncover the truth. She ends up putting herself in danger as well. This is a well-written mystery. It is a good cozy. Josie and her friends are likeable characters. Paradise is a typical small town with many secrets. I recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2004

    Cute cosy

    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........................ Harriet Klausner

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