Thursday, January 24, 2019

Book Review: JUST PLAIN MURDER (An Amish Mystery #6)

Title: Just Plain Murder (An Amish Mystery #6)
Author: Laura Bradford
Publisher: Berkley Books
Pages: 304
My GoodReads Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Set in Heavenly, Pennsylvania, the book takes us into the lives of an Amish community. Jakob Fisher, a detective, has been expelled from the Amish community for becoming a police officer. It is a subject that causes him grave distress, even years later. 

When his mentor, retired cop Russ Granger, is killed, Jakob and his fiancée Claire Weatherly can’t begin to understand who would have wanted him dead.

Jakob is so stricken with grief that he has to get his reminiscences about Russ out of his system before he can even begin to investigate.

That is the crux of this book, but there are other people and their lives that are just as important. After all, it is a small community and it is natural for people to be connected with each other.

Eli and Esther Miller have had a baby, Sarah. Eli’s brother, Benjamin, who was Jakob’s childhood best friend may have found the right match at last. Claire’s 62-year-old Aunt Diane, who is sweet and always seeing the good in people, has a love interest in Bill Brockman. Amos Bontrager, who is on a Rumspringa, a period when Amish youngsters decide if they want to live as Amish or assume the English way of life, is a delinquent who thinks nothing of vandalising property and stalking women. His actions are upsetting the community, as is his father’s unwillingness to hold him accountable.

There are far too many characters here, and I was irritated by that until I realized that this was Book 6 of a series, and I was pretty clueless about the five books that had preceded it.

Honestly, I found myself losing patience pretty quickly. I didn’t mind the other bits actually, but the investigation was oh-so-painfully slow. I’ve read books on the Amish way of life before, but those were romances. Here since the theme was murder, I expected a little more excitement and action.

Here, the murder investigation is just a part of everyday life in a small community. So we end up learning about the Amish people through the characters. We have Esther who enjoys baking bread, Aunt Diane who enjoys cooking, and Annie, Claire’s employee, who enjoys baking cookies just like Ruth Miller, Benjamin’s sister. Claire’s shop features heavily.

There’s an election for the position of the minister at the church, and Elmer Mast, newcomer to the community, pips John Bontrager and Benjamin to the post. We also get insights into the Amish way of practicing the Christian faith.

My knowledge of the Amish lifestyle needed an urgent update. I was surprised to read that Esther had a fridge. I had thought that the Amish had no use for modern technology, since they eschew the use of cars, and prefer horse-driven buggies.

The investigation goes on so slowly, it’s like watching paint dry. Leads emerge from the most long-winded conversations. There is endless information about the colour of people’s eyes and their hair, which is the romance factor at play.

At its heart, the book is a romance. Celebrating the love that several people have for each other, and also the love and faith that the community puts into its beliefs.

I couldn’t get drawn into the book.

Jakob was far too emotional to do his job properly. He was always sharing his story with anyone he met. As a cop, he should have been scouring footage at the pub almost immediately to trace Russ’ last few moments. But it is not until Claire says that she would like to have been a fly on the wall that he remembers that he could ask the pub owner for the camera footage. It was only towards the end of the book that I realized that the book was more about Claire than Jakob. Perhaps that is why she seemed to get more leads.

Some of the words used made me cringe. There was one line, “Eli inhaled himself to his full height.” It was an annoying sentence, but not the only one of its kind. There were several times when I encountered the use of inhale, exhale, swallow, sag and lean as nouns. It was annoying.

It wasn’t that this mystery wasn’t good. It is just that the resolution took too long.

(I received an ARC from First to Read).

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...