GENRE: AMISH MYSTERY
PUBLICATION DATE: OCTOBER 1, 2011
RATING: 8 OUT OF 10
Callie Harper had never planned to run a quilt shop, but following the death of her aunt she finds herself moving to Shipshewana, Indiana to look after her aunt’s property. Running the quilt shop is not at all what she intended, and while she’d prefer to simply sell the shop and move on with her life, the Amish women who frequent the shop and depend on it for their income are very persuasive at convincing Callie that she should reopen and take over its management. Deborah Yoder in particular knows how much her friends need the money they make from selling quilts in Daisy’s Quilt Shop. Callie doesn’t plan on getting too close to her new Amish friends, but she soon finds herself relying on Deborah when the owner of the local newspaper is found dead, and Callie the main suspect. Although many people in the town saw Callie arguing with him several times before his death, Deborah knows that Callie isn’t capable of murder. But who is? And is the murderer still in Shipshewana? As more bizarre events begin to occur, Callie and Deborah have more on their minds than selling quilts. Can these two unlikely allies figure out who the murderer is and prove Callie’s innocence?
Vannetta Chapman’s debut novel, A Simple Amish Christmas, was the first book that I ever professionally reviewed, so Vannetta holds a special place in my heart. Having adored her first book, I jumped at the chance to review the first novel in her cozy Amish mystery series. While I’ve read mysteries and thrillers in the past – everything from Agatha Christie to romantic suspense – I’d not previously encountered a cozy mystery, so this was a brand new experience for me. Knitting, baking and quilting are all hobbies that tend to be utilised in cozy mysteries, which makes them fit in quite well with the Amish genre. After all, what is more cozy than snuggling up underneath an Amish quilt?
And this is just what our protagonist, Callie, finds herself doing for the best part of her initial visit to Shipshewana. Having fond memories of her Aunt Daisy but not visited her in a long time, she’s shocked and surprised at her aunt’s death and at inheriting her quilt shop. I found Callie to be a very relatable and sympathetic character, always trying to help those in need, like her new Amish friends, but also getting emotional and upset at wrong-doings, to the extent of dunking a glass of juice over the head of the local newspaper when he refuses to retract n article! Having an Amish and an English protagonist working together to solve the mystery is a nice touch, and while I felt like I could connect with Callie more than Deborah, Deborah was still an interesting character. Like Callie, she had a habit of acting before she’d thought things through and accidentally bringing trouble on herself. Since Shipshewana is quite a different Amish community from the more well-known ones in Pennsylvania and Ohio, readers will likely be intrigued by how closely the Amish and English work together in their daily lives, as shown through Callie and Deborah in the quilt shop. I hope that the subsequent books in the series will also delve deeper into the lives of Esther and Melinda, the other Amish women who contribute quilts to the shop.
As I mentioned, this is my first cozy mystery and I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I became immersed in Deborah and Callie’s attempts to track down suspects and figure out who was behind the events occurring in their town. There’s one scene near the end of the novel where I simply could not put the book down until I learned the outcome and found out that all the characters were safe and sound! I hadn’t expected quite so much suspense, so having my heart thumping as I urged Callie and Deborah on in their sleuthing was definitely unexpected but very welcome. My only real complaint about the mystery is that the ending was a bit of a letdown. After all the interviewing of suspects and laying traps, the person behind it all wasn’t really related to the main characters. It made me wonder why some of the people Deborah and Callie had been following up had been acting so suspiciously in the first place, but maybe they will feature in other mysteries later in the series. I don’t want to give away anything about the ending, but I’ll just say that I wasn’t entirely satisfied.
After waiting almost a year for the next book from Vannetta Chapman, I can say that Falling to Pieces was definitely worth the wait. While I normally prefer reading Amish romances, this mystery was a fun and compelling read and I’m looking forward to reading more about Callie and Deborah’s sleuthing in A Perfect Square, the next book in the series. If you enjoy Amish books but want something different from the usual tales of courtships and shunnings, then definitely check out Falling to Pieces.
Review title provided courtesy of Zondervan.