How did I come to write the Country Store Mysteries?

Back in the late seventies and early eighties, I spent five happy years earning my doctorate in linguistics at the flagship Indiana University campus in Bloomington, one that generations of Maxwells attended and of which my great-great-great grandfather was one of the founders (also: my great-grandfather was first dean of the IU Medical school, my grandfather was captain of the IU basketball team in 1916, and my own father was an undergrad there). Think huge university in a small town. You can walk or ride a bike everywhere. People are friendlier and talk more slowly than in the northeast. And neighboring Brown County is as hilly and pretty as Vermont.

When I was looking for a new cozy mystery series to write, I remembered a fellow grad student named Benjamin who dropped out of the IU Linguistics PhD program in the late 1970s. With his girlfriend he bought a run-down country store in the Brown County town of Story, and fixed it up into a breakfast restaurant as well as a bed-and-breakfast establishment. They served whole-wheat banana walnut pancakes, which I make to this day. I decided to write a made-up version of their adventure, and the Country Store Mysteries were born. The Story Inn still exists, although my friends don’t own it any longer, and the inside serves as the model for fictional Robbie Jordan’s breakfast and lunch country store, Pans ‘N Pancakes.

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I’ve had a ball going back to southern Indiana every year to visit, listen to the local dialect, imagine the my fictional Brown County town of South Lick, and think up new stories to write.

 

Robbie Jordan may have had reservations about the murder victim, but she still needs to turn up the heat on a killer if she wants to keep her new restaurant open for business…

In the charming small town of South Lick, Indiana, Robbie has transformed a rundown country store into the runaway hit Pans ‘N Pancakes. But the most popular destination for miles around can also invite trouble. Erica Shermer may be the widow of handsome local lawyer Jim Shermer’s brother, but she doesn’t appear to be in mourning. At a homecoming party held in Robbie’s store, Erica is alternately obnoxious and flirtatious–even batting her eyelashes at Jim. When Erica turns up dead in the store the next morning, apparently clobbered with cookware, the police suspect Robbie’s friend Phil, who closed up after the party. To clear Phil and calm her customers, Robbie needs to step out from behind the counter and find the real killer in short order…

Includes Recipes for You to Try!

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