The Amish way of life has become a fertile ground for novels and mysteries, but to be honest, A Plain Death by Amanda Flower is the first book I’ve read that features the Amish. I have to admit to having some pre-conceived ideas about the Amish, though. I live in Ohio, the state with the largest Amish population and at least a few times each year visit Berlin and Walnut Creek, both in Holmes County Ohio, one of the largest Amish settlements. For me, Amish country means great food, I love the mashed potatoes with noodles on top, fun shops, jams, bread, and the occasional farm tour or buggy ride. Now, my husband’s thoughts on the Amish are slightly different, but his come from dealing with them as a part of a job he used to have. We also had some Amish folks in our county make the news last year, not in a flattering way. You can read about our “rogue Amish” here. In general, though, I think of the Amish way of life as simpler and more peaceful than ours.
In A Plain Death, we meet Chloe Humphreys, a computer whiz who’s moving to Appleseed Creek, Knox County, Ohio in the heart of Amish country to head up the technology department at a small local college. And the trouble starts on her way into town when she picks up an Amish teenager, Becky, who is being harassed by a couple of rough-looking men. Chloe agrees to let Becky stay with her for a while until she finds a job and another place to stay. Unfortunately, Becky, who has no driver’s license, borrows Chloe’s car and is in an accident with a buggy, killing an Amish Bishop.
It’s a good, full story with characters who feel real. Chloe turns sleuth out of concern for Becky and herself, trying to figure out who the intended victim was and who cut the line. She’s helped by Becky’s brother, Timothy, a carpenter who is no longer Amish but has close ties to the community. He’s also a handsome love interest who has a history that clearly has helped make him who he is. Becky is a sweet, charming girl, hurt when her community turns their backs on her. She wants to be an artist, not a possible career if she stays in the Amish community like her parents want. Oh, and Becky’s grandfather is just awesome, open-minded and caring.
As a mystery, the plot-line is well-constructed and timely, given the location. And Becky’s reasons to take up the case made sense. She wasn’t just being nosey. It concerned her and someone she cares about, but beyond that, the Amish tend to keep to themselves, not going to law enforcement with the problems.
A Plain Death feels honest. There’s the mystery that forms the base of the book, but how people interact is important too. Chloe’s the new woman at the college, and she faces some resistance and resentment. There are tensions within the Amish community and between that Amish and the English. Even families have their issues. It feels real. People are people, good, bad, well-meaning, hurtful. There’s is a bit of religion woven into the story, but it felt natural to the story and setting, not forced.
I enjoyed A Plain Death all around. The plot was good with enough twists to keep me interested. The setting was familiar but from a different perspective than mine as a tourist. The characters were people I’d like to be friends with. Well, not all the characters of course. There are the bad guys.
4 out of 5 stars
Category: Mystery – Christian
Appleseed Creek #1
Released for Kindle June 4, 2012
Paperback to be released July 1, 2012
Book source: For review
Appleseed Creek Mysteries
- A Plain Death
- A Plain Scandal (expected February 2013)