Amish Mystery #1
Berkley Prime Crime
June 2012/ 978-0-425-25131-7
by Laura Hinds
Author Laura Bradford also writes mysteries as Elizabeth Lynn Casey,
penning the Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries. I have reviewed some
of them for MyShelf.com, and was delighted when I got the opportunity
to read the debut novel of her new Amish Mystery series. Needless
to say, I began my reading and reviewing journey with high expectations.
I am so happy to report that Hearse and Buggy not only
met my expectations, but exceeded them.
Hearse and Buggy is set in the Amish country of Heavenly,
Pennsylvania. Claire Weatherly has left behind her bad marriage
and subsequent divorce, and the hectic pace of Manhattan. Settling
down in Heavenly has been healing for Claire. She's living at her
Aunt Diane's B&B, Sleep Heavenly, and has opened her own Amish
specialty shop, Heavenly Treasures. Claire becomes fond of the Amish
people she interacts with, and has learned more about their way
of life than she could have previously imagined. Diane is always
there to guide her, and to provide a shoulder to lean on.
When the previous owner of her store is murdered, Claire worries
that some tenuous relationships may unravel. In particular, the
obvious romantic feelings between her shop assistant, Esther and
the young Eli Fisher. Claire fights her strong attraction to Benjamin
Miller, as well as the magnetic pull she feels for Police Officer
Jakob Fisher, who is a shunned Amish because he left home and family
behind in Heavenly to join the police force. Jakob has returned
to serve as an officer in Heavenly, and he faces the difficult task
of considering one of Heavenly's own Amish as the potential murderer.
Hearse and Buggy is a present day mystery, but the tone,
set by the Amish way of life, and slower, more reflective pacing,
brings forth a feeling of an easier time; a time and place where
crime is virtually unheard of, and murder scarcer than hen's teeth.
The mixture of Amish traditions and the English way are evident
throughout the story. The town has both cobblestone roads and smooth
paved streets. The shops draw tourists, as does Diane's bed and
breakfast. The Amish work hard as is their way. People are generally
honest, and there is little evidence of culture clash, mainly because
of respect for all. Walter Snow, the murder victim, was the exception;
he had stolen the money due to the Amish families for their craft
items that he sold on consignment in the shop. Indications point
to a revenge killing.
Despite this being a murder mystery, I found comfort in this book.
The murder is off the page, and the description of what happened
minimal. The interplay of the characters, as well as the description
of their emotions and physical attributes is woven seamlessly.
From cover to cover, I enjoyed this book immensely. The cover art
is beautiful, even incorporating some spilled and broken milk bottles,
representing an incident in the story. When I studied the cover
after reading the book, I was struck by the thought that the Amish
wouldn't cry over the spilled milk. They would just clean it up
and get on with their work. I had learned well from the Amish of
Heavenly, Pennsylvania sounds like a peaceful place to visit. Isn't
it wonderful that we, the readers, get to visit whenever we'd like?
Kudos to Laura Bradford for the fabulous job she has done of creating
a new cozy town, and inhabitants that I've already learned to love.
Hands down Hearse and Buggy is a mystery debut cozy lovers
will flock to.
of other titles in this series
and Buggy #1
and Dangerous #3
Churn for the Worse #5
Plain Murder #6