Fall landscape

Title: A Plain Scandal (Appleseed Creek #2)

Author: Amanda Flower

Published: February 15, 2013

Category: Mystery – Police Procedural

Rating 3½ out of 5

Add: Goodreads

Purchase: Amazon | IndieBound | Book Depository

The people of Appleseed Creek in the heart of Ohio’s Amish Country are under attack. Soon after the dust has settled on a buggy accident that turned out to be murder, an unknown assailant begins cutting off the long hair of Amish women and the beards of Amish men. New to the area, computer specialist Chloe Humphrey may not share their customs, but she is certainly alarmed over these crimes against the Amish and worries how such events will impact her growing number of friends who are more connected to that way of life. In this small community, when Chloe discovers the body of an Amish businessman who was stabbed in the back and whose beard was cut off, she knows that finding the murderer and restoring peace to Appleseed Creek is as much her responsibility as anyone else’s.

I had a couple of reasons for wanting to read A Plain Scandal, the first of course being that I had enjoyed the first in the series, A Plain Death. The second is the hair and beard cutting mentioned in the blurb. Flower was inspired, at least in part, by an event right here in my very own Jefferson County, Ohio. Yep – the rogue/cult Amish were cutting the hair/beards of other Amish. The ringleader of those incidents was actually just sentenced about a week ago to 15 years for hate crimes. You can find the New York Times article here.

I liked a lot about A Plain Scandal. Chloe is an honest character and she’s got a sweet little romance slowly perking along. Her reasons for investigating the murder and the hair-cuttings make sense. She’s cocerned for her Amish friends, and knows that the Amish are reluctant to speak to the English police. I think giving the amateur sleuth a convincing reason to be investigating helps a cozy a lot. The setting is okay, although maybe a little too close to home for me to really care about it, if that makes sense. It reminds me of the Amish towns we go to once in a while, to eat and shop. It’s not as exotic as some other settings.

The mystery was interesting, and no, fiction didn’t follow reality. It’s a light mystery, almost too light for me. The creepy guy was (suprise!) a bad guy, but the old bad guys, from the first book, aren’t as menacing as they were.  Chloe’s friends are good, the Amish aren’t perfect, but are the non-violent victims again.

I will say that I would categorize this as a Christian novel, although it is not preachy in the least. The characters’ faith is just a part of their lives, both the Amish and the English. It’s a clean book, little to no swearing, no sex, a relationship that actually moves slowly (two books and they’ve done nothing more than kiss once and hold hands), some blood but nothing overly gory.

I guess I didn’t like it quite as much as the first, but it’s a solid story. Likeable characters, a well-crafted mystery. The plot slows down some in parts, but overall it’s enjoyable.

A Plain Scandal is the second in the series, but can easily be read as a stand-alone.

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I have one copy of A Plain Scandal by Amanda Flower to giveaway!

Here’s how it works:

The giveaway will be open through February 28. The winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email and announced on March 1, 2013. You must have a US mailing address to win.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway