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A Churn for the Worse
Amish Mystery #5
Laura Bradford

Berkley Prime Crime
March 1, 2016/ ISBN 9780425273036
Mystery / Cozy / Amateur Sleuth

Reviewed by Laura Hinds


It's summer time and the living is easy in Heavenly, Pennsylvania. Shopkeeper Claire Weatherly is happily busy in her gift shop, with plenty of tourists in town to visit the local Amish community. Claire stocks an array of goods made with care by the Amish, so her shop, Heavenly Treasures, is a popular stop. Claire's Aunt Diane, proprietor of Sleep Heavenly Bed and Breakfast, is hostess to a variety of visitors, ranging from a teacher, to a marketing consultant hired by the town, to a travel agent and a blog writer and a photographer. Claire enjoys spending free time with her suitor, police detective Jakob Fisher, a man who grew up Amish, but was shunned when he left to join the police.

When an Amish farmer is inexplicably murdered in his barn, Jakob becomes frustrated trying to chase down clues. Having had some success in helping the police solve murders in the past, Claire keeps her eyes and ears open for anything she might hear that the Amish wouldn't tell the police. A disturbing pattern appears, that of a man asking the Amish for directions, or for a drink of water, and then stealing money from the Amish homes. What does this have to do with the murder of Wayne Stutzman?

While it is wonderful to see the development of relationships between the main characters, it was fun to learn about horses and their role in Amish life, too. This brought in a new element and allowed for the introduction of new characters -both equine and human – and to show a different side of Aunt Diane and her passion for horses.

As with the first four books in this series, this was a delightful read with an air of peace about it. The pace is just right, but I simply had to know the outcome, and even though I put the book down for the night repeatedly, I found myself turning the light on again several times for “just one more chapter.” The outcome was satisfying with no loose ends left, and everything fell into place perfectly. The conclusion brought tears to my eyes as the fate of one particular horse was resolved exactly as I'd hoped it would be.

I highly recommend this Amish themed cozy mystery to mystery lovers everywhere. A visit to Heavenly, Pennsylvania, is like a ride on a cloud with ups and downs and joys and sorrows, with a peek into the lives of some very special characters.

Reviews of other titles in this series

Hearse and Buggy #1
Assaulted Pretzel #2
Shunned and Dangerous #3
Suspendered Sentence #4

Reviewer Note: Laura Bradford also writes as Elizabeth Lynn Casey

Reviewed 2016