Thursday, April 6, 2017
Review of "As the World Churns" by Tamar Myers
Magdalena Yoder is a wealthy Mennonite woman who owns the PennDutch Inn in Hernia, Pennsylvania and solves mysteries in her spare time. In this addition to the humorous series Magdalena is newly married to handsome, Jewish heart surgeon Gabriel Rosen. This grates on Gabe's mother, Ida, who would like nothing better than to take her precious 'Gabeleh' back to Brooklyn. Mama Ida keeps up a running litany of Yiddish-tinged complaints and insults about Magdalena, who's quick to return the favor. These interactions are hilarious.
In fact Magdalena is a hoot in general. She struggles to meld her Mennonite teachings with the reality of the world and thus is conflicted about lying (which she does constantly), television (not permitted, but who can resist 'Green Acres'), dancing (moving while embracing your husband isn't dancing), evolution (which peskily seems to happen despite Mennonite beliefs), etc. In addition, almost every other word out of Magdalena's mouth is a quip of some kind, and most of her family, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances consider her an uproarious nut case.
In this book Magdalena has organized a Hernia Holstein Competition and cow owners from all over flock to town with their livestock. Each entrant hopes their milk-giver will win the title of best cow along with the cash prize. Four sets of contestants stay at Magdalena's PennDutch Inn, which has rooms for people and a barn for cows. These oddball guests add fun to the story.
The mystery part of the book involves Magdalena's eighty-something friend and neighbor, randy Doc Shafor, who has roaming lips and hands. Doc Shafor is a retired veterinarian scheduled to judge the Holstein competiton. Unfortunately, when Doc notices something odd about a cow in Magdalena's barn he gets clonked on the head.
Doc is taken to the hospital but his comatose state keeps him from saying what happened. Magdalena's not going to let anyone get away with clocking Doc, though, and she sets out to catch the miscreant. This leads to plenty of mayhem, including getting Mama Ida to ride backwards on a fast-moving cow.
Several returning characters add zest to the story including Magdalena's teenage pseudo-stepdaughter Alison - a nice girl with a Brooklyn accent and a mind of her own; Magdalena's Amish cook Freni - a shy lady with no neck who has a way with buns; Magdalena's bigamous, pop-eyed, ex-husband Melvin - a murderer who's recently escaped from prison; Magdalena's sister Susannah, who carries a torch for creepy Melvin; a greasy spoon owner named Wanda - who has hated Magdalena for decades; Magdalena's best friend Agnes - a Methodist woman who's looking for love; and more.
Every page of this book provides at least a smile, and I laughed out loud plenty of times. Moreover, real ice cream recipes - which have nothing to do with the story - are sprinkled through the book. I'd strongly recommend this book to fans of funny cozies.