When the Grits Hit the Fan (Country Store Mystery Series #3)

When the Grits Hit the Fan (Country Store Mystery Series #3)

by Maddie Day

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Overview

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 . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781617739293
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 03/28/2017
Series: Country Store Mystery Series , #3
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 66,494
Product dimensions: 4.00(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Maddie Day is a talented amateur chef and holds a PhD in linguistics from Indiana University. An Agatha Award-nominated author, she is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and also writes award-winning short crime fiction. She lives with her beau and three cats in Massachusetts.

Laural Merlington has recorded well over one hundred audiobooks and has received several AudioFile Earphones Awards, including one for Never Say Die by Susan Jacoby.

Read an Excerpt

When the Grits Hit the Fan


By Maddie Day

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.

Copyright © 2017 Edith Maxwell
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-61773-930-9


CHAPTER 1

Who knew people could be so nasty to each other?

I'm Robbie Jordan. While I cleared dinner plates, I watched and listened as a mix of grad students and professors from Indiana University discussed medical sociology during their bimonthly dinner meeting at my restaurant, Pans 'N Pancakes. It wasn't pretty. I'd served fifteen of them Chicken Ezekiel on rotini, with garlic bread and winter greens from a local farmer harvesting even in February. The air still smelled deliciously of Kalamata olives, garlic, and roasted tomatoes, and from the empty plates, it sure looked like the meal had been a success.

The conversation? Not so much. Half the terminology went right over my head. But when Charles Stilton glared at my friend Lou Perlman, the meaning was unmistakable.

"It was unethical of you to take the ideas in my paper and present them as your own," Lou went on, the silver rings on her fingers flashing as much as her eyes as she pointed at him across the wide table. "You agreed to sponsor me, but I sure didn't agree to give up my original research."

"You're a doctoral student," the diminutive professor said, his bright green shirt a spot of color among the more muted shades worn by his colleagues. He picked up his glass of red wine and sipped. "I'm a tenured professor in the same field. I can't help it if our research is pursuing parallel ideas. I didn't steal a thing." He studied my shelves of vintage cookware and blinked as if the conversation was over.

I'd met Professor Stilton in the preceding weeks. He'd been polite and friendly to me but had gotten into tiffs with the others at a few of the gatherings. I'd have to ask Lou what was up between them.

A woman I hadn't seen before pushed back her chair. She stood and set her hands on the table. "That's enough, you two. These meetings were supposed to be congenial intellectual gatherings, not some mudslinging sessions."

Charles stroked his tidy black goatee. Ignoring the woman, he turned to the man on his right. "How about them Pacers?" I watched Lou fume, nostrils flared, lips pressed together. She pushed her chair back and stalked to the restroom. We had met in the fall when she'd come in for breakfast with a group of cyclist friends. She'd helped me find my father and we'd become good friends. I'd never seen her so mad.

The woman who'd admonished them had come in late and I hadn't been introduced to her. Shaking her head, she picked up her plate and brought it to where I stood at the sink in the kitchen area that adjoined the rest of the space.

"Thanks." I wiped my hand on my apron before extending it. "Robbie Jordan, proprietor here."

She set down the plate and silverware and shook hands with a firm, vigorous touch. "I'm Professor Zenobia Brown. But just call me Zen." A wiry woman, she stood a couple of inches shorter than my five-foot-three, and was at least two or three decades older than my twenty-seven years. Her salt-and-pepper hair was cut in a no-nonsense short do with the top a little bit spiked. She smiled, her skin crinkling around blue eyes. "My mom thought with a last name like Brown I needed a unique first name. Anyway, I'm a new professor in the department. The chair, actually. I live halfway between South Lick and Bloomington and I've been meaning to get over here for one of your famous breakfasts. Still want to."

"Not so sure they're famous, but you're welcome to come and sample what we serve."

"Whole wheat banana walnut flapjacks? That's my kind of breakfast." She glanced back at the group. "Sorry about the commotion. It's like wrangling cats sometimes to get these people to act civilly."

"It's okay. As long as I get paid and people don't start a food fight, I don't really care how they get along." I'd happily agreed to Lou's idea of the dinner meetings. I'd only opened my country store breakfast-and-lunch place in October and hadn't realized how slow business would be during the winter. It was cold and often snowy in the hills of southern Indiana, but most years not snowy enough to bring a winter tourist trade. Even the locals seemed to be staying home instead of eating out. I'd reduced the days I stayed open to Wednesday through Sunday to save money on my assistant Danna's pay. It also kept me from ordering food that spoiled because it didn't get used. The boost of a nice flat sum from this group every other Friday night was definitely helping the bottom line. I served the same menu to everybody, changing it up each time, and so far no one had complained.

I loaded up two platters of brownies and took them to the table, which I'd created by shoving together smaller tables into a conference-table-sized surface they could all sit around. "Coffee or tea, anyone? Or decaf?"

"I'm sticking with wine," Charles said, pouring the last of his bottle of Merlot into his glass. "I can because I'm walking home," he added in a defensive tone.

I knew he lived half a mile away right here in South Lick. I thought most of the other faculty and students, like Lou, resided nearer the sprawling flagship Indiana University campus fifteen miles away in Bloomington.

"It's so great you got permission for us to do the BYOB thing, Robbie," Lou said, back in her chair, pouring a half glass for herself from a bottle of white. "Dinner's not really civilized unless you can drink wine with it. And I'm having more because I caught a ride with teetotaler Tom here."

Tom, Lou's fellow grad student, grinned and waved.

"As long as I'm not a licensed alcohol establishment, which I'm not, it's apparently legal. And as long you pour your own." I'd purchased a supply of stemless wine glasses and a few corkscrews when I'd learned I could allow customers to bring bottles of wine. Nobody had asked yet if they could carry in beer or hard alcohol, which was good, because my research hadn't extended that far. I didn't advertise the BYOB option, and I wasn't usually open for dinner, anyway, but several times a group of ladies had brought their own wine for a special luncheon, as had an elderly local couple celebrating their sixtieth wedding anniversary with lunch out instead of dinner.

Lou had been talking with Tom and Zen. She tilted the bottle at Zen's glass. "More?"

I noticed Lou was carefully avoiding any interaction with Charles, wisely so. He was still deep in conversation with the man next to him.

Zen covered the glass with her hand. "Not for me, thanks. One glass is my limit. I'm training for a marathon. But I'd love a cup of decaf, Robbie."

So running was why she was that wiry. I was a serious cyclist, myself. It was how I'd met Lou and Tom, who also loved riding for miles up and down the scenic hills of Brown County. But my cycling habit was offset by my love of eating. Nobody would ever call me wiry and I didn't care. I was healthy, and I did have a nicely defined waist to offset my generous hips.

I took the rest of the hot drink orders. After I delivered the mugs, I busied myself cleaning up. It was already eight-thirty and I still needed to prep for tomorrow. We'd agreed on a finish time of nine o'clock for these gatherings. I was up every morning by five-thirty to open the doors by seven, so I didn't want Friday nights to turn into an open-ended session of wine sippers sitting around talking abstractions.

The discussion had turned to the topic of public health, which apparently wasn't as controversial as the conversation between Lou and Charles had been, and didn't seem abstract at all. Snippets of talk about social change in women's paid and unpaid work and the consequences of these changes for women's health floated my way. Zen seemed to be leading the discussion, while Charles sat back with his arms folded, a little smirk on his face. I carried the remains of the rotini and the salad into the walk-in cooler. When I came out with butter and flour in my arms for tomorrow's biscuit dough, the mood had changed.

Zen stood with her hands on her hips. "How dare you say that to me?" Her eyes narrowed and nearly shot daggers at him.

Charles shrugged then grabbed his coat. "You can take it. You're our esteemed chair, aren't you?" He sauntered toward the front door. "Have a nice night, fellow sociologists."

The cowbell on the door jangled his exit, but it looked like Zen's nerves were a lot more jangled.

CHAPTER 2

By nine the next morning the restaurant was blessedly not in a slump. For once, every table was full and a party of three women browsed the antique cookware shelves as they waited for seats to open up. Good. I'd much rather be too busy than sitting around waiting for customers. The air was full with the rich aromas of sizzling sausages, sweet maple syrup, dark coffee, and freshly flipped pancakes. Bits of conversations were punctuated by the clink of silverware and the occasional jangling of the cowbell on the front door marking exits and entries.

Between hurrying from table to table, taking orders and clearing, I glanced at Danna, the best nineteen-year-old co-chef I could imagine. Tied with an orange band, her titian dreadlocks hung down her back as she flipped pancakes, turned sausages, and expertly ladled gravy onto hot biscuits. The girl was tireless, nearly always cheerful, and had contributed plenty of innovative ideas for extras to accompany our usual menu. She'd made creamy grits with cheese last Saturday and we'd sold out. Today the Specials chalkboard read, WARM UP YOUR TOOTSIES OMELET: ROASTED RED PEPPERS AND PEPPER JACK CHEESE SERVED ON A WARM CORN TORTILLAAND TOPPED WITH FRESH JALAPENO SALSA. It was Danna's invention, even though as a native Californian, I might have thought of it myself.

"You good?" I called to her.

She returned a thumbs up, so I continued on my trajectory to three men with the ruddy faces of those who spent a lot of time outdoors. I didn't know if they were farmers, construction workers, or even electrical linemen like my new sweetie, Abe.

"Refill, gentlemen?" I held out the coffeepot. One covered his mug with his hand, but another smiled and lifted his mug. The third had pushed aside a plate empty except for a small pool of gravy and was engrossed in the New York Times crossword puzzle. He was doing it in ink. My radar went up since crosswording in ink was my favorite downtime occupation, bar none — even more than cycling.

"Today's?" I asked him, sidling around to his side of the table. "I haven't gotten to it yet." I smiled when he glanced up.

"Know what the biggest Channel Island is?" He frowned at the paper. "I don't even know what channel they're talking about."

"How many letters?"

"Nine. Could be the British Channel. How do you spell brek-how?"

"You mean Brecqhou? That's only eight letters. I'll bet it's Santa Cruz. Try that."

He added those letters, nodding as he did. "That's it." He glanced up at me. "So it must be the California Channel Islands. How did you know?"

I laughed. "I grew up across from Santa Cruz Island, in Santa Barbara. Santa Cruz is definitely the biggest island of the archipelago, and it's gorgeous on a clear day. It's like seeing the top of a mountain range push up from the ocean. Which I suppose it is. They're all gorgeous — Anacapa, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, even tiny Santa Barbara Island."

"Sounds like you miss them. Well, thanks, miss. I appreciate the help." He chuckled. "Thought I was only coming in for biscuits, gravy, and bacon."

"My pleasure. Will that be all today, guys?"

He looked at his tablemates, who nodded. "Yes, I do believe so. It was all very tasty."

"I appreciate that." I slid their ticket facedown onto the table and headed for another table. The cowbell on the door jangled and I turned my head to see Maude Stilton holding the door for her tiny mother, Jo Schultz. I'd bet Jo was all of five feet when she stood up real straight, although Maude was a good five or six inches taller.

"Come on in, ladies," I called, and headed that way, instead.

Jo, the former owner of my building, handed her wool coat to Maude and sank onto the bench. "Hi, there, Robbie. How's my store?" She smiled, further creasing her lined face. She always wore her white hair in a bun on top of her hair, giving her an even more old-fashioned look than her almost seventy years would suggest.

"It's good. And busy this morning, as you can see." I gestured behind me. "I'm sorry you'll have a short wait, Jo, but I'm glad to see you." I greeted Maude, too. "There are two parties before you. Breakfast usually turns over pretty fast, though."

"Not a problem, Robbie. Glad you're busy." Maude, a successful local architect and Professor Stilton's wife, didn't look a bit old-fashioned. Barely a line showed in her face, even though she had a nearly twenty-year-old son. Every time I'd seen her, her streaked chestnut hair was freshly colored and cut in an elegant layered style that fell between her ears and her shoulders. She slid out of a stylish cardinal-red coat and hung it on the coat tree with Jo's.

"It's looking real good in here," Jo said. She might look like an older lady, but both her mind and her eyes were clear and sharp. "You done a good job with the renovations. And I'll bet you're glad not to be involved in any more murders."

"You can say that again." I shuddered inwardly at the memory of being face-to-face with a killer right here in my store at the end of November. "It's been nice and quiet for three months, and I'm planning on it staying that way."

"Say, you ever get a chance to work on the upstairs like you said you were wanting to?"

Danna dinged the little bell indicating an order was up. I swiveled my head in her direction and caught an annoyed look. Busy like we were, I had no business chatting up a customer even if we were connected through this building.

"Gotta run, Jo," I told her. "I'll catch up with you later."

I ran my tush off for the next half hour, clearing, taking orders, and serving up platters of tasty, filling breakfasts. By the time I delivered an egg white omelet with dry toast and a bowl of fruit for Maude and a half order of banana-walnut pancakes for Jo, it was almost thirty minutes later and the crush was over. Three tables were empty and four others already had their checks.

"Whew. Sorry that took so long," I said, setting down their food. "Can I top off your coffees?"

"No thanks," Jo said

"Please," Maude said. "I ought to take some to Ronnie. He's out ice fishing all day. At nineteen, did he think to take a thermos of something warm to drink? No, he did not."

"That's one cold way to have fun," Jo said. "But he's my grandson. I expect he has a mind of his own, and right that he should."

"I helped him take his equipment onto the lake this morning when I dropped him off. You wouldn't catch me sitting on a bucket all day long hoping to catch a couple perch or bluegill." Maude raised perfectly arched eyebrows and shook her head.

"Jo, you were asking about the upstairs. I've been working on it this winter." I'd done all the renovations on the downstairs myself. My mom had had a successful business as an artisan cabinetmaker in California and had taught me carpentry. When she'd died suddenly a year ago, the money I inherited from her, together with my savings from working as a chef in nearby Nashville, Indiana for the three years prior, had helped me buy the property from Jo. But I'd rather still have Mom alive. "So far I'm still in the demolition phase."

Maude looked worried as she glanced at her mother.

Jo seemed to shrink into herself, but she mustered a smile. "That's nice. I know you want to make the place into an inn."

"I'm sorry." I cringed at my thoughtlessness. "That's not very nice of me to mention the demolition. You both used to live up there. It's just that I wanted a configuration of walls different from the previous ones." And insulation. And modern wiring. And a myriad other improvements.

"Don't worry about it," Maude said.

Jo's smile brightened. "I'm glad you're going to improve it. The place got pretty run down, I admit."

"That striped wallpaper I put up in my room was pretty bad, as I recall," Maude said. "But hey, I was a teenager."

"And you did it all yourself, don't forget." Jo smiled at her daughter. "You did a good job."

"If you need a consult on the new design, my office is right above the bank." Maude's mouth smiled, but not the rest of her face. "I'd be happy to take a look one of these days." She kept smiling as she talked.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from When the Grits Hit the Fan by Maddie Day. Copyright © 2017 Edith Maxwell. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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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When the Grits Hit the Fan (Country Store Mystery Series #3) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The friendships, the food, the carpentry continue?. Robbie builds her cafe business, develops new menu items that are mouthwatering and gets embroiled in another murder investigation!
gaele More than 1 year ago
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.
TeresaKander More than 1 year ago
Every book in this series just keeps getting better and better. I love reading about Robbie and her country store/restaurant crew, as well as the other supporting characters around town. The small town ambiance is well described, and you feel at home as you read these books. Robbie discovers yet another dead body and finds some of her friends on the suspect list, so of course she wants to try to clear them and find the real killer. As if that weren't enough, her renovations lead to the discovery of a tunnel between the store and the barn---and evidence of an intruder, who may or may not be the same person as the killer. There is a lot of action in this story, as well as a subplot that warmed my heart. I suspected who the murderer was fairly early on, but the reveal was much worse than I expected. **I received a copy of this book from the publisher, with no expectation of an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.**
Mama_Cat More than 1 year ago
‘When the Grits Hit the Fan’ is everything and more that I would anticipate in a cozy mystery from this author. It is fun, intriguing and fraught with suspense. There is a full, unique cast of characters and suspects. The setting is in the upper Midwest, with rich descriptions of the surrounding areas that made me homesick. It is third in the Country Store Mysteries Series and can be read as a stand-alone. One thing I appreciated in this novel is how the author includes more of the history of the building that houses Pan’s ‘N Pancakes. Even though South Lick is fictional, I liked how the author inserted a Carnegie library and its design as is prevalent in Indiana. There are wonderful-sounding breakfast dishes that almost made my mouth water! Foodies will love the included recipes. I feel as if I got to know the primary characters better in this novel, in particular Robbie (owner of Pans ‘N Pancakes), Danna (Robbie’s right hand person), and Abe (Robbie’s boyfriend). Birdy, the black and white cat who chose Robbie as her person, is more of a presence in this novel yet I would love to see her become more of a close companion. Robbie is mature for her age, with wisdom beyond her years and the ability to ask questions and put the answers together to find the solution. Her strength in demoing second floor walls parallels her strength of character. The plot is complex, with additional mysteries that may or may not be related to the murder occurring in the early chapters. The murder victim had very few people who actually liked him, complicating the investigation by the State Police. Robbie knows their first suspect, Lou, is not the killer, as the two women are friends; the accusation from a relative of the deceased was simply not true. The stunning surprises Robbie finds add fascinating and frightening suspense. The pace steadily increases as the mysteries grow more puzzling; I like one of Robbie’s methods of finding solutions! Discovering who the bad guy/ gal is was a challenge! I was surprised to learn who it was, as I had already guessed at and discarded the person as innocent. Overall, I very much enjoyed this novel and highly recommend ‘When the Grits Hit the Fan’ to cozy mystery fans who enjoy intriguing, well-crafted mysteries that include a bit of history and tasty regional and Italian foods. With a grateful heart, I received an Advance Reader’s Copy of this book and as a courtesy, I am posting my honest review.
BishopAdams_ More than 1 year ago
The mystery kept me engaged and guessing who the killer was. I enjoyed reading this book. I did my best to try to figure out the mystery and i actually managed to predict who the killer was before the main characters. A professor has been killed, but quickly it turns out he wasn't the nicest person and a lots of people disliked him. There were many potential suspects. A friend of Robbie's has been seen arguing with him the night before he was killed, so she became one of the suspects. For a while I suspected a few, but then there was one scene that help me rule out this suspect or that suspect and I finally narrowed it down to the right one. I liked how there was enough hints and clues to figure out things on your own, but it wasn't too obvious. I liked how the book also had other things going on besides the killing. Robbie has a relationship blooming a bit and she is also renovating above the restaurant to make space for rooms. I am already looking forward to the next book!
Griperang72a More than 1 year ago
It was fun to visit the Pans 'N Pancakes cafe and all our friends again. Of course what is more fun then visiting a quaint little country town. Oh wait we had a murder so that adds a little tension. The author gives us plenty of suspects but in the end it is only one who was guilty. I was kept guessing until the end of the book and I hope you are too. I liked the added plot line of Robbie tearing down walls to add rooms for a B&B. She even finds a few surprises while doing the remolding. You may get a little hungry while reading this book as there is some mention of food and you are in luck because some of the recipes are in the back of the book. I am looking forward to the next book to see what is going to happen with Robbie next.
MandaLuvsToRead More than 1 year ago
This book was a lot of fun. Robbie owns (and runs) Pans 'N Pancakes, a small town Indiana diner that specializes in breakfast and good home cooking. She has a lot of regular customers and hosts a variety of different groups, including the university's sociology meetings. After a heated meeting, one of the members of the group ends up dead, and Robbie's diner is host to a whole lot of suspects. Was it someone in the sociology group who'd had enough? Was it a family member, or someone from his past? And things get even more interesting when Robbie decides to renovate her diner and discovers secrets in the walls. There are plenty of colorful characters, good food, and lots of secrets and suspects. I was wrong more than once about who the killer was but it all tied together nicely at the end. I haven't read the first two books in the series yet, but I definitely will. *I received this book at no cost in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Loved it. First book I have read by this author and I'm going back to buy more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great mystery
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this series
JayRoberts More than 1 year ago
Robbie Jordan sure has a lot to deal with in her every day life. She's running her successful breakfast and lunch restaurant Pans 'N Pancakes, dating a great guy named Abe and working on rehabbing the upstairs portion of her building in order to put some rooms in to attract guests. The last thing she needs is to find herself involved with another murder. But the universe laughs at her other plans when she stumbles across the body of a college professor underneath the ice of a local lake. The victim had a habit of rubbing people the wrong way. He was accused of stealing work from his student Lou, a friend of Robbie's. But that's just the least of the possible suspects. Unable to help herself, Robbie starts puzzling things out while all the while going out her daily activities. But it seems that every time she checks up on a suspect, she ends up with someone else. His fellow academics despised him, he was emotionally abusive to his wife and son and his own mother in law had no use for him either. But as Robbie makes progress towards finding out who really killed the professor, she finds herself in increasing danger as the killer gets more bold in trying to dissuade her from investigating. With a climax that is a pure rush of adrenaline, Robbie looks to save not just her own life, but bring about justice to the person who took the victim's life. From the nuts and bolts of the daily grind of running a restaurant, to the work involved with demolishing a living space to build it back up again, Maddie Day manages to make those aspects of the storytelling engaging. But delving back into Robbie's puzzle solving mind is always the main fun of reading the Country Store Mysteries. It is funny that with all her amateur sleuthing that none of the police have actually gotten mad at her for essentially being a busybody. They tolerate her only but neither Detective Slade or Buck Bird have truly actively put their foot down to stop her going off on her own. Perhaps that is to their detriment but at least they aren't antagonistic to her in a way that is diametrically opposed to the level of her involvement as I've seen in other series. With an abundance of regular characters to write about, smart decisions about which to include and others to weave in or out as the dictates of the story demands, every note of the story will keep readers riveted to each page.
GratefulGrandma More than 1 year ago
When the Grits Hit the Fan is the third book in the Country Store Mystery series and is the best so far. Robbie Jordan is renovating the upstairs of Pan N' Pancakes in South Lick Indiana. She talks to the old owner and her daughter about finding artifacts in the walls that she is tearing out to add some rooms as a Bed and Breakfast. They would love to see what she has found. Meanwhile business has slowed down a bit so she has closed for a couple of days a week to do the work. Her friend Lou, has set up a dinner for the Sociology department from the University every other Friday. It is at one of these dinners that a couple of arguments break out. The next day, Lou and Robbie are out snowshoeing. Taking a shortcut across the lake, they find the dead body of the professor that was involved in the arguments the previous evening. He is frozen under a light crust of ice in a large fishing hole. Because Lou was on of the people he argued with the night before, and she was one of the people to find the body, she is the number one suspect. Of course, Robbie wants to prove her innocence and begins to investigate on her own. The side story going on is that Robbie finds a hidden ladder and secret tunnels under her property and thinks someone has been using them. Things heat up with accusations, threats, questions and an eventual showdown. This was a great mystery. Robbie Jordan is a great protagonist. She is smart, capable, loyal and knows her way around tools. She sure knows how to manage time as she cooks and serves at her restaurant, investigates the murder and the tunnels as well as wielding a pry bar to tear out plaster. With all this going on, she still has time for dinner and extracurricular activities with her boyfriend, Abe O'Neill. The murder mystery was pretty easy for me to solve, but there were still a lot of suspects, red herrings and some surprises in store. The mystery of the tunnels and secret passage was a different thing altogether, I had no idea who had been in the store and why. I read this book in one day as I wanted to see if I was right about the killer. I enjoyed this book and will definitely keep reading Country Store Mysteries.
Debb23 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book as I do the series. At a meeting Professor Stilton seems to be causing more problems than good and when Robbie and Lou find his body while out snowshoeing it seems that he still is causing problems when the police start to look at Lou. With further investigation it is found that very few have anything good to say about him. I love the characters in this series, I like that the police take things seriously and actually do investigate. I loved the side story of Robbie finding interesting things while renovating and very nice twist. The mystery was excellent and kept me guessing right along with Robbie. I had no idea who did it. I will definitely continue on with this series. There is the additional bonus of some great sounding recipes in the back.
KristinSchadler More than 1 year ago
Loved the first two books in this series. Loved this book as well. So excited to read how Robbie's meeting with her dad went. Really enjoyed this book!
csrsvivr More than 1 year ago
Lots of twists and turns as this series continues to unfold. The characters are developed and leave you craving more. True friendship means helping a friend when they are accused of murder. Robbie Jordan, the owner of “Pans ‘n’ Pancakes must save her friend Lou Perlman.
rebelspinster More than 1 year ago
Ever since I can remember, I have been watching or reading some sort of murder mystery. Thanks to my mother, I grew up watching TV shows like Perry Mason, Columbo and Murder, She Wrote. The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries were either read to me or on my own. I haven't read this authors books before and I really enjoyed reading this book as it was a great mystery that kept me on my toes! I loved that is didn't give anything away and keeping the reader guessing as to who's done it. I loved the characters of this small town. The simplicity of the town and the people that live there. I also love the idea of a country store with a diner like eatery. (I wish I had one in my town!) The diner, as it became in this story, is like a local focal point for everyone to gather. Which also help collect the clues to figuring out who committed the crime. I am definitely recommending this author for others that love murder mysteries to read. And I can't wait to read Maddie Day's other mysteries for the country store series!
ethel55 More than 1 year ago
This is a fun series and may be my favorite one so far. Robbie Jordan has finally settled into the community of South Lick, Indiana, her restaurant, the Pans N' Pancakes, going strong. One way she has tried to add to the bottom line, is opening up part of her café for committee/group meetings from nearby Indiana University. When she and her friend Lou discover a body while out snowshoeing, the memory of one of those more raucous meetings comes to mind. Robbie is also continuing to renovate the building housing her restaurant, hoping to someday open up rooms similar to a B and B. There is a fascinating backstory with the history of her buildings that plays into the modern day mystery, which I found very appealing.
SewWrite More than 1 year ago
Robbie Jordan is settling down nicely in South Lick, Indiana. She owns her own restaurant and is renovating the upstairs into rooms to add a bed and breakfast. With the help of her boyfriend Abe, she is tearing down the walls and finds some unusual items. Even in the slow season business heats up when there is a murder and the victim was seen having words with several people in the restaurant. Can Robbie find the clues to clear her friends and find the real murderer before anyone else gets killed?
Dollycas More than 1 year ago
Dollycas’s Thoughts The weather is chilly in South Lick but for Professor Charles Stilton it is downright icy! Robbie Jordan and her friend Lou find the prof frozen under the ice when they are out snowshoeing. Lou becomes the prime suspect because of a heated conversation at Pans ‘N Pancakes the night before. Robbie decides to do a little investigating to show the police some more plausible suspects. Turns out fans of Charles Stilton are hard to find but there are many people that are not too upset the man is dead. Robbie passes on what she learns to the police and that lands her right in the killer’s sights. Oh this was such an entertaining read! The third installment to the series finds Robbie Jordan renovating the upstairs of Pans ‘N Pancakes in hopes of adding some guest rooms. While tearing out the walls she finds several surprises. Then we have a college prof-cicle with quite a list of suspects. Robbie is going to be sure the right one is iced for the crime. We also have the budding romance between Robbie and Abe that is progressing quite nicely. The weather matched what we face her in Wisconsin so I could identify with all the ice and snow. There is never a dull moment in When The Grits Hit The Fan. Maddie loves crossword puzzles and she even makes her own. She uses them to order her thoughts, this time to connect the clues to help her solve this whodunit. She also connects the dots and learns more about the history of her building. Plus she makes an amazing discovery that connects two characters. If that isn’t enough there is a shocking end to the story the had me on the edge of my seat. Maddie Day has brought back the characters we love from the previous books and twisted them into a very complex mystery. I loved following along with Robbie everywhere she went, even to a place I would never go in real life. My claustrophobia would definitely got the better of me. Robbie is a much braver woman than I will ever be. Oh I have to mention the food. The problem with type of story is that the food descriptions set my stomach to growling and I start to make special meal requests of my personal chef, Mr. Dollycas. He always knows when I am reading a foodie mystery. You can’t go wrong with a Maddie Day mystery. Well written stories with genuine characters will keep you coming back for more. I recommend you start this series from the beginning so you don’t miss a thing.
bkworm_ran More than 1 year ago
Robbie is starting to feel comfortable and settled in Southlick. Her café is a success and she’s finally able to get to work on renovating the upstairs to accommodate a couple of rooms for B&B customers. Troubles set in when she overhears a heated argument between her friend Lou and Professor Charles Stilton. It certainly doesn’t help matters when Stilton ends up on the underside of the iced over fishing hole Robbie and Lou discover on their morning run the following day. Don’t let this cute title and cozy format fool you. This little installment of the Country Store Mystery series packs a punch. With the many varied characters and plot threads, gathered together with automatic weapons, will leave readers a little short of breath. Day’s easy style carries you along as downhome cooking lulls you into a ‘food coma’ then drops you into the action. Good reading.
TheCozyReview More than 1 year ago
When the Grits Hit the Fan: A Country Store Mystery Cozy Mystery Maddie Day After buying and opening a small town restaurant and soon to be B & B, Robbie started hosting dinners for Indiana University’s Sociology Department at Pans ‘N Pancakes to keep the store going through the slow winter months. The hostility between the members could be seen and heard, and she wondered if any of them were as smart as she had always thought they were. Professor Charles Stilton, a man who apparently no one liked or wanted to work with was at the center of the tension at the latest meeting. The Professor insults Robbie’s friend, graduate student Lou and the chair of his department, Zen ending the night with grumbling and dread. The next morning Robbie and Lou go snowshoeing and find the Professor frozen under the ice. Before long the police suspect Lou might have killed him after she accused him of stealing her work. To prove her friend’s innocence, Robbie does what she does best, begins to solve the mystery of the Professor's murder and puts herself smack in the middle of danger, again. -- Robbie Jordan is a delightful character, as are all of the recurring characters in this series. The story although a murder mystery is more than a who done it. Maddie Day fills the pages of her book with several intriguing puzzles. Setting Robbie up for making several discoveries and perplexing mysteries. Robbie and Lou are by far the most rounded characters in the story, but Jo and Danna are becoming an intricate part of the series and serve to give the reader more than a couple of suspects to point the finger at. Robbie’s desire to make her store succeed even in the dismal dead of winter is inspiring. Her newest love interest is a man who apparently thinks everything Robbie does is perfect, he is respectful, loving and compassionate at all the right moments, and protective when needed. The only complaint there may be is that his background could be better explained, but overall, he is an excellent addition to Robbie’s life. There are numerous suspects and not even the police can figure out who killed the Professor. Other than the fact that he was not liked by most people, no one, in particular, seems to have a motive for killing him. In the end, the murderer is revealed in an unexpected and heart-stopping way. The setting, the small town of South Lick, and the plot of this story are delightful and does not disappoint. The reader may well find themselves envisioning the store and its quirky customers sitting down to a homestyle, upscale breakfast, and a bit of gossip. The book is fast-paced without sacrificing detail and those all important clues needed to solve the murder. This series is highly recommended, if you like twists, turns and a well-crafted story with memorable characters you will love this book.
Missisue4 More than 1 year ago
Oh how I LOVE hanging out with Robbie at Pans 'N Pancakes....even if there is a killer running loose around town. Robbie always has her hands full with the restaurant especially when a death occurs in town and she is the one that found the body !!! Robbie and her friend Lou go snowshoeing around the lake and while crossing over the lake, Robbie happens to look into an iced over ice fishing hole and sees the face of Professor Stilton. He was just in the restaurant the night before with a group from the Sociology Department from the nearby university. Now its no secret that he wasn't well liked but to push him into a cold lake ?? Of course being the puzzle solver that she is, Robbie cannot help but show interest in the case...especially when some of the "suspects" are people she knows. And telling the detective in charge of the case that they are innocent doesn't go over too well for her. As well as being a puzzle solver, Robbie is great with multi-tasking. While she preps for the morning rush or tears down walls upstairs of the restaurant, she allows her brain to wonder and ponder..... But while working on the upstairs she comes across some items that were hidden in the walls as well as a secret tunnel that leads to the barn. She talks to Jo, the previous owner of the building who actually lived upstairs about the items. Jo does confirm that she put the items in the walls many years ago. Now Jo is also the mother-in-law of Professor Stilton whiich means her daughter also lived upstairs of the restaurant when she was a teenager. When Robbie comes across a built in cabinet with a doll and a diary, everything comes together. All she has to do is get the evidence to the police before her and Abe become 2 more victims. I just LOVE how Maddie Day writes the Country Store Mystery series. There are times while you are reading that everything is going nice and smooth but turn the page and as quick as that things take a drastic turn and you are on the edge of your seat holding your breath !!! And did I mention how AWESOME Robbie is ?? This girl has got it together....even when she doesn't think so !! When the Grits Hit the Fan is the 3rd book in this delicious series. What are you waiting for ? If you haven't dropped into South Lick for a visit, better hurry up...... you don't want to be left behind !!!
ReadYourWrites More than 1 year ago
Maddie Day is one of my favorite cozy mystery authors. Her Country Store Mystery series is definitely one of my favorite series. All the main and permanent secondary characters are all people I would love to know. There isn’t anything I can say about this book that I haven’t already said about the two previous books. When the Grits Hit the Fan is a standalone read and the third book in the series. To say this book is full of surprises is an understatement. Once again, Robbie Jordan finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. Her friend and cycling buddy, Lou Perlman, is a prime suspect in the death of Professor Charles Stilton. Lou and Charles have a very public and heated argument over Charles stealing her research and passing it on as his own. The next day, Robbie and Lou find Charles’ body frozen under a lake. When Lou says that she didn’t kill him, Robbie is quick to back her up but the police aren’t so sure. Robbie refuses to allow her friend to take the blame and vows to find out who the real killer is. As if catching a killer isn’t enough to keep Robbie busy, she’s running herself crazy with the uptake in business at Pans ‘N Pancakes, demolishing the upstairs of her building, and spending more time with her boyfriend Abe O’Neill. She isn’t looking for someone to break into her building, threaten her, and attempt to kill. But it all happens. To save her life, Abe is going to have to risk his own to catch a killer. I loved When the Grits Hit the Fan. I loved playing ameuter slueth along side Robbie, trying to figure out who the killer was. The way Maddie connected all the dots at the end to show how and why Charles was killed was incredible. I definitely had several “I didn’t see that coming moments.” I’m really happy with the way Robbie and Abe’s relationship is progressing. When the Grits Hit the Fan is one of those books that once you pick it up, you aren’t going to want to put down. I’m in awe of Maddie Day for having the ability to time after time put together mysteries that keep readers guessing and leave them wanting more. **Received a copy from Kensington and reviewed voluntarily.**
Samantha1020 More than 1 year ago
Three books in and this series is going strong! I actually think that this is my favorite book of the series yet. There are just so many things to enjoy and because of that I read this book in less than two days. That is almost unheard of for me! One of the things that I enjoy most about this series is reading about Robbie's cooking while working at her restaurant Pans 'N Pancakes. It is such fun to read about the different breakfast and lunch combinations that she comes up with. Also, it never fails to make me super hungry while reading and usually for breakfast type foods. I've come to realize that the majority of my favorite cozy mysteries all feature food. I'm not sure what that says about me as a reader. LOL! But I do really, really enjoy the scenes where Robbie is busy working in her restaurant with all of the delicious descriptions of the food that she makes. I really enjoyed the mystery portion of this book as well. The author gave the story a sort of Nancy Drew feel with a hidden tunnel and other fun secrets. As I was a huge Nancy Drew fan in my youth, I couldn't get enough of this book because of it. I really enjoyed the fact that the author had me guessing on the killer throughout almost the entire book. I also really enjoyed that in this book we got to see more of Robbie's relationship with Abe. I've been hoping for this since the very first book so consider me a happy reader. I just really enjoyed this book (obviously) and don't have anything bad to say about it. My only complaint is that now I have to wait for book four. LOL! It's so hard to wait when these books are so good. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am left so excited about this series! I've really come to enjoy my time in South Lick, Indiana with all of these characters. Robbie is someone that I would want to be friends with in real life and I just love all of the other secondary characters as well. With fast-paced mysteries and that whodunnit feel I adore, I just can't seem to get enough of these books. I would recommend these books to cozy mystery and mystery fans alike. Highly recommended! Bottom Line: My favorite of the series so far! So good! Disclosure: I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalle
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
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!