Friday, 7 January 2011

Murder in Plain Sight - Marta Perry

There are secrets buried in Amish country...

Did a sweet-faced Amish teenager brutally murder a young woman? To save her career, big-city lawyer Jessica Langdon is determined to defend him—against the community's bitter and even violent outrage. Yet without an understanding of Amish culture, Jessica must rely on arrogant businessman Trey Morgan, who has ties to the Amish community… and believes in the boy's guilt.

Jessica has threats coming from all sides: a local fanatic, stirred up by the biased publicity of the case; the dead girl's boyfriend; even from the person she's learned to trust the most, Trey Morgan. But just when Jessica fears she's placed her trust in the wrong man, Trey saves her life. And now they must both reach into a dangerous past to protect everyone's future—including their own.

While so many of the Amish novels that are currently saturating the market are focused on love and romance, Marta Perry tackles an entirely different subject - can the Amish kill? When a local English woman turns up dead in a barn, along with an unconscious Thomas Esch clutching a hammer, the residents of Lancaster don't doubt for a second that he committed the crime. But his English neighbour, Geneva Morgan, is convinced of his innocence. Trey Morgan doesn't share his mother's opinion but grudgingly decides to shadow the big city lawyer that she hired in order to protect his mother's involvement in the case. Jessica Langdon isn't pleased with Trey's presence, merely wanting to settle the situation in order to keep her job in Philadelphia, but a series of disturbing threats and incidents cause her to look to Trey for help. Was the murder more than a drunken mishap? Are Jessica and Trey getting themselves involved in something sinister and dangerous?

This is only the second novel of Perry's that I've read, but I'd definitely recommend her to any fans of romantic suspense or Amish fiction. Marta certainly understands the Amish and portrays them accurately, and she's also excellent at getting your heart thumping. I was reading this late at night but couldn't bare to put it down in case something exciting happened in the next chapter! While I did suspect the murderer early on in the story, this didn't detract from my interest. I was intrigued by the connections between the threats made against Jessica, and wanted to know how everything somehow linked back to the Morgan family. Geneva Morgan was a wonderful character, as was Leo Frost. I always appreciate having well developed secondary characters in the background to move the story along. Geneva held the story together, much like the grandmother in Perry's Hide in Plain Sight (#1 in the Three Sisters Inn series from Love Inspired Suspense), and I thought it was realistic that Jessica have Leo aid her with her legal work, as she couldn't possibly handle such a complicated case on her own.

The only minor setbacks to the mystery that I'd have to mention would be being able to spot the killer early on (although maybe I just read too much Nancy Drew as a child!) and the semi-monologue that he gave at the end of the novel when he revealed himself. Like I commented in my review of Hide in Plain Sight, it just seemed a bit cheesy and predictable. I can't really put my finger on what I didn't like about what he said or the way he said it, but it irked me in some way. And while I enjoyed the romance between Jessica and Trey, there were a couple of the typical "I touched him and felt a spark shoot up my arm" moments that you always get in romance novels that I wish authors would get rid of; they're just too over-used. Their Happily Ever After ending also seemed a little bit rushed.

But despite the minor issues I had with this book, I did throughly enjoy it. If I don't get a review copy of its sequel, Vanish in Plain Sight (June 2011), then I'll probably end up purchasing it myself as I have a feeling that the loose ends that weren't completely tied up at the end of this novel will be explained in #2 in the series. Although a bit rusty in places, this is an excellent addition to the growing Amish genre and a pleasant (or perhaps not!) break from the typical baking escapades and romantic picnics. 8/10

Many thanks to Harlequin and NetGalley for giving me the chance to read and review this book.

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