PREMEDITATED PEPPERMINT by Amanda Flower is a delectable read. People are treated to an intriguing mystery with likeable characters, some kooky, a charming setting, and humorous dialogue that will put a smile on reader’s faces.

The main character, Bailey King, returns to Harvest Ohio in Holmes County to help take care of her Amish grandmother after the death of her grandfather. She takes over the running of the family shop, Swissmen Sweets. In this story, Bailey is preparing peppermint treats for their booth at the Yuletide in Harvest Festival when she gets an unexpected and unwanted visit. Eric Sharp, her ex- boyfriend and a celebrity chef, has brought a film crew to Harvest to produce an episode for his new reality cooking show. His plan is to include Bailey and her Amish ties and possibly rekindle their romance. But a wrench is thrown into the community when the crew’s producer is found murdered and Eric is the prime suspect. Complicating matters is Bailey’s current boyfriend, the deputy sheriff, Aiden, who thinks Eric is guilty.  Bailey only wants justice to be served and proves that there are a number of people of interest. She must juggle finding the killer, running the sweet shop, and dealing with townspeople such as Juliet and her service animal, pot belly pig, Jethro, a live nativity which includes a camel, and a Christmas parade.

This story gives a sense of a small-town community and the differences between the Amish and “English” cultures. People will feel they are taking the horse and buggy ride with the Amish. The plot gives off an old-fashioned feeling without the present-day technologies.  Readers will eat up the delightful cozy mystery with fascinating characters and a pleasant setting.

Elise Cooper:  Why the title? 

Amanda Flower:  Each book in the series has a different candy associated with it because the main character has a candy shop.  This is the third book in the series with my first two books titled, Assaulted Carmel, Lethal Licorice, and now Premeditated Peppermint. I wanted to write this one surrounding Christmas and thought peppermint is the perfect fit.  I actually made peppermint bark before and since it is not too hard to do I put it in as a recipe at the end of the book.

EC:  You write about Amish culture?

AF: Currently, I live an hour from Amish country.  I was a librarian and lived in Holmes County for three years.  I always wanted to write in a book the scene where the nativity parade marches down the street with both the English and Amish watching.  There is a Christmas market where all the shops in the village are represented.

EC:  Can you tell some of the differences?

AF:  In this book, I explain how the Amish have no pictures and no Christmas trees. Decisions are made only with the permission of the Church Bishop.  Not taking pictures originates from the Bible.  If you ever saw an Amish doll there is no face and that is also based on the literal interpretation of the Bible.

EC:  How would you describe the ex-boyfriend, Eric?

AF:  He is driven by fame and wealth. Very self-centered because he does not care about anyone other than himself.  A playboy who is smug, condescending, arrogant, and materialistic. I would call him a jerk, but not evil.  He is not someone I would ever want to date. I based him partially on the chef from “Hell’s Kitchen,” the yelling personality.

EC:  What about his counterpart, Aiden, the deputy sheriff?

AF:  He is steady, responsible, reliable, kind, and loyal.  In an earlier book, I wrote in his backstory with an abusive father.  He became a police officer because he wants to protect people.  Now he takes care of his mother Juliet and wants Bailey to understand he respects her and wants her to be her own person.

EC:  How would you describe Bailey?

AF:  Bailey is smart, successful, dedicated, empathetic, and motivated, which is why she makes such a great amateur sleuth.  She runs into danger, not away from it. At the age of eighteen she moved out of her parent’s house and supported herself through culinary school.  She knows what she wants in her life.  I think she is a tough cookie because she is so spunky. She has chosen herself as the go between concerning the Amish and the police since her relatives are Amish. She is able to help Aiden solve crimes.

EC:  The setting is charming?  

AF:  Yes, and the book quote describes it as a “Norman Rockwell postcard.”  It is typical rural Ohio. A small town with a gazebo and festivals associated with the different seasons.  This is how I wanted my readers to imagine the town.  I based it on Berlin, Ohio.

EC:  Did you ever have pig for a pet?

AF:  No.  But all my cozies have a central animal.  I am a big animal lover.  I thought it would be cute to have a comforting pig in Amish country because that would be so foreign to an Amish person. They use these animals to work the farms.

EC:  The banter between the characters is very humorous?

AF:  I like to write funny.  I do put in the serious issues of murder.  But in my own life I deal with problems by using humor.  I guess it comes across in my writing.  I really like Cass because she is so un-Amish with her purple hair.

EC:  Can you give a heads up about your next book?

AF:  Toxic Toffee, the next book in this series comes out in June.  Bailey is returning to Harvest, from New York, having just wrapped up a six-week shoot of her cable show. She has been recruited to create a giant Bunny made out of toffee for Easter that will also feature white rabbits. A rabbit farmer dies and it is found out he was given a lethal dose of poison. Bailey and Aiden work the case together to find the killer.