Dead bodies turn up a lot around Bed and Breakfast owner - and amateur sleuth - Judith Flynn. In this book Judith and her ornery cousin Renie Smith travel to Little Bavaria, Washington for Oktoberfest - where Judith will help man the booth for the state 'Bed and Breakfast' organization.
Soon after their arrival Judith and Renie attend a reception where Dietrich Wessler, the elderly gent who made Little Bavaria into a tourist attraction, will speak. Amidst the abundant drinking, dancing, and loud music at the reception Herr Wessler is found stabbed to death.
Before long the local Police Chief,'Fat Matt' Duomo - who enjoys eating and drinking more than is good for him - asks Judith to investigate Herr Wessler's murder as well as another recent death. So Judith, with Renie's help, gets acquainted with local citizens, studies town records, looks into possible motives, and so on - to try to identify the killer.
During their inquiry Judith and Renie learn that Herr Wessler had many relatives, including lots of out-of-wedlock children. The sleuths also discover that some residents of Little Bavaria have connections with World War II Nazis, that several local people have 'accidently' drowned, and that some folks are not who they seem to be.
On the positive side the book provides an entertaining look at Oktoberfest celebrations, with parties, drinking, shopping, concerts, singing, a dachshund race, and other fun activities. Judith and Renie take advantage of the holiday to eat in German restaurants, enjoy a good many drinks, peruse stores, chat with people, etc.
On the negative side, the mystery part of the story is confused, with so many characters that it's hard to remember who's who. Moreover, after Judith and Renie's time-consuming, tedious, and rather boring detective work - which goes on for hundreds of pages - the killer is finally identified by pure chance. This kind of 'Deus Ex Machina' solution is unsatisfying and disappointing.
Judith is a likable character - polite, smart, friendly, and always willing to offer a helping hand. Cousin Renie, on the othe hand, is a nasty, sarcastic, bad-tempered woman who dislikes almost everybody. If the author meant for Renie to be a comic character she wasn't successful.
This seems more like a book about celebrating Oktoberfest (and eating pancakes and pastries) than a mystery story. For that reason, I wouldn't recommend this book.
Rating: 2 stars