March 2015, Zondervan, 358 pages, ebook & Audiobook, Personal copy
Content: murder, Amish life, humour, mild romance, tissues needed
Summary from Vanetta's website
When the coffee shop manager is murdered in Middlebury’s Amish Artisan Village, two women from different walks of life must join together to solve the mystery.
Spring has arrived in Middlebury, Indiana, and Amber Wright is optimistic about the growing profit from her collection of Amish shops—until she receives a call that Ethan Gray is dead. Hurrying over to A Simple Blend, she finds a solitary hole in the front window and the store manager lying next to the espresso machine, dead from an apparent heart attack. All the money is still in his register.
When Amber hires a young Amish woman, Hannah Troyer, to take over the shop’s duties, the two women become fast friends—as well as amateur sleuths. The police believe Gray’s death is a by-product of vandalism, but Amber and Hannah aren’t convinced.
Clues that don’t add up, a neighbor who is pulled into the midst of the investigation, a town with secrets to hide, and a blossoming romance—all will combine to push Amber and Hannah into unfamiliar roles in order to solve a mystery that will once again reveal the depth of God’s grace.
Vannetta seems to me to be a big name in Amish/Christian fiction. I've started reading another trilogy of hers, which starts with Falling to Pieces, which startled me when Murder Simply Brewed mentioned it as a nearby town where murders happen regularly. Ha! I laughed out loud because I knew from the title alone that MSB would have murder in. I didn't realise just how twisty the plot twists would be, or how truly terrified I'd be at the snake incident. I have a snake phobia and I needed no imagination to feel the terror when SPOILER happened, and Amber's fear of the snake. Even thinking back on it gives me the heebie jeebies. It is a large part of the story, but thankfully not all.
I love Hannah. She cares about doing her best and not letting others down, especially when she has to take over the cafe. Although out of her comfort zone of a quilt shop, she soon makes the cafe her own, adding touches which her boss/overseer both appreciates and encourages. I like her enquiring mind and how she thinks things through. I enjoyed how her co-main characters equally stood out strongly, how they wound up in others' lives, their strengths and weaknesses all making a difference to Hannah's life and the outcome of the investigation.
Like Vanetta's other books I feel as though I'm right there among the Amish, seeing the now familiar customs and hearing familiar Pensylvanian Dutch phrases. It's a style of life which has similar ideals to the ones I have. I did read the book which I received for review as well as hop across to the audiobook version which I bought because it meant I could 'read' the story while doing craft work. I loved it so much I've bought book 2!
Find out more on Vannetta's website.