Batter Off Dead: A Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery with Recipes

Tamar Myers, Author . NAL/Obsidian $22.95 (263p) ISBN 978-0-451-22592-4

In Myers's 17th Pennsylvania Dutch mystery (after 2008's As the World Churns ), Magdalena Yoder, who's eight and a half months pregnant, must try to solve the murder of gluttonous Minerva J. Jay, who drops dead after wolfing down “twenty-six pancakes at the Beechy Grove Mennonite Brotherhood all-you-can-eat fund-raising breakfast.” Meanwhile, Magdalena gives birth to “Little Jacob” squatting on the floor of the local market, contends with her bizarre sister and overbearing Jewish mother-in-law, and comments not always wittily on Jewish, Mennonite and other religious practices. Late in the story, the focus returns to who poisoned Minerva's pancakes. A contrived climax and a surfeit of smart-ass humor make this strictly for series fans. (Feb.)