Monday, January 5, 2015

Plain Killing (An Amish Mystery)

Author:  Emma Miller
Genre:  Mystery

Four Stars
When the Amish community of Stone Mill, Pennsylvania, refuses to discuss a murder with the police, it's up to Rachel Mast to bridge the cultural gap and stop a killer from striking again. . .While swimming in a local quarry, Rachel and her cousin Mary Aaron discover the body of an Amish girl, fully clothed in her white bonnet, floating face down in the water. The drowned young woman, Beth Glick, had left Stone Mill and her Old Order Amish life a year ago, causing her to be shunned by her family and her people. But if Beth had joined the English world, why was she found dressed in Amish clothing and strangled? Rachel's boyfriend, police detective Evan Park, is getting nowhere with questioning Beth's family. He's also troubled over the fate of three other Amish girls who left Stone Mill in the last two years. As someone who gave up the Plain lifestyle herself then returned to operate a B&B, Rachel is able to use her ties to the community to learn more about the missing girls. But when her search eventually leads to the dark underbelly of the secular world, Rachel finds her own life in dire jeopardy...
Rachel Mast left the Amish sect she grew up in to live in the outside world, and now owns a B & B nearby her family.  She still maintains ties with friends and relatives, and one day gathered a group of Amish girls, including her younger sister and cousin Mary Aaron, for an afternoon of swimming and a picnic at the local quarry.
She finds, however, more than an afternoon of fun:  a dead body floating in the quarry.  But not any body:  this is the body of an Amish girl, Beth Glick, who left Stone Mill and her Order over a year ago for the outside world.  Reeling from the shock, she calls a friend to escort the girls back to their families and then waits for the police, including her boyfriend Evan, who also is a police officer.
It isn't long before Rachel discovers that other girls have gone missing from the community and resolves to try and locate them.  Even though Evan wants her to stay out of the investigation, the Amish won't talk with him and he knows that he needs Rachel's help if he is to find Beth's killer.
This is the second in the series, but it can be read as a stand-alone.  There is enough background given so that we know why Rachel left and how she is coping the world of the Englishers, and her relationships with her friends and family. 
When Rachel discovers that there is something deeper occurring than just runaways, she knows that she must try and locate the rest of the girls, with or without Evan's help.  She does, however, have the help of her cousin Mary Aaron, who will prove to be a valuable asset indeed in the investigation.  We are taken from the lush Pennsylvania countryside to a seedy area of New Orleans and back again before we find out the truth.
Ms. Miller has a definite way with words, and having been to Lancaster, Pennsylvania many times myself (having relatives near there), I can tell you that her descriptions are right on the mark as far as the area and peoples of the Amish.  We are given a glimpse into the lives of those who generally shun the outside world; and the mystery is well-woven into their world and our own.  What emerges is a strong mystery with dark undertones, but well worth reading.  Recommended.

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