The national bestselling author of Shunned and Dangerous returns to the Amish community of Heavenly, Pennsylvania, where shop owner Claire Weatherly has come to appreciate a simpler, more peaceful way of life. But dark secrets are about to complicate things—and lead to murder…
After the Stoltzfus barn catches fire, Claire is awed by the response of the community. Hundreds of Amish men gather together to raise a new barn for the family in a matter of days. But in the midst of the work, a human skeleton is unearthed. Found with the remains is half of a friendship bracelet last seen on Sadie Lehman, an Amish teen long believed to have left her strict upbringing for the allure of English ways.
Now Detective Jakob Fisher—once a member of the Amish community himself—is determined to solve the young woman’s murder. With Claire’s help, he must dig into the past and bring to light long-buried secrets—secrets that someone is willing to kill to protect…
There is Amish fiction which I will call 'insular', taking place strictly within the community, and there is Amish-crossover fiction (again my term) where you have the Amish and 'English' cultures co-existing and occasionally, well, crossing over. I think the latter is more difficult to handle effectively, and Ms. Bradford does an outstanding job.
There is a large Amish population in my county in Kentucky, and many Amish businesses. We frequent a number of these stores and services because they are good people and because they are closer than a lot of the national chains. My husband once told our Amish butcher that I had been Amish at one point - which caused the man some surprise, for which I quickly apologized and set him straight.
All I'm saying is that I'm incredibly picky about my Amish fiction and Bradford's 'Amish Mystery' series is a welcome addition to my library. The interaction amongst the Amish and English communities is believable and very natural.
A second standard I have developed over the course of my book reviews is the use of language. I don't care if it's the Queen's English or local hillbilly vernacular, the words have to be appropriate to the story and not demeaning to the readers. I can very happily picture myself in the Amish Mysteries world as either an Amish or English character. And I am in serious like with the punny titles.
With this congregation of factors, I would probably classify Suspendered Sentence as an 'Amish-crossover-cozy mystery' with a twist - a male major character who is a former member of the community. I've read several bushels of cozies by this point, and I enjoy every one of them, whether or not they involve cooking, baking, quilting, or any variety of crafts, or animals, as so many of them do. Ms. Bradford's series provides a different (and therefore exciting) kind of cozy.
If you are a fan of cozies, as I am, this book (#4 in the series) and its companions need to be on your TBR list.
While spending a rainy afternoon at a friend’s house more than thirty-five years ago, Laura Bradford fell in love with writing over a stack of blank paper, a box of crayons, and a freshly sharpened number two pencil. From that moment forward, she never wanted to do anything else.
Today, Laura is a bestselling mystery author with Berkley Prime Crime(Penguin/Random House). In addition to her Amish Mysteries (latest release: SUSPENDERED SENTENCE), Laura also pens the Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries under the pen name, Elizabeth Lynn Casey. The ninth book in that series, TAKEN IN, released in August. Finally, Laura has just finalized a contract for a third cozy mystery series that will debut in June 2016. She now lives in New York with her family.
(Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)