Murder, Plain and Simple
Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries #1
By Isabella Alan
Author’s Website: isabellaalan.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Jeanie
When Angela Braddock inherits her late aunt’s beautiful Amish quilt shop, she leaves behind her career and broken engagement for a fresh start in Holmes County, Ohio.
With her snazzy cowboy boots and her ornithophobic French bulldog, Angie doesn’t exactly fit in with the predominantly Amish community in Rolling Brook, but her aunt’s quilting circle tries to make her feel welcome as she prepares for the reopening of Running Stitch.
On the big day, Angie gets a taste of success as the locals and Englisch tourists browse the store’s wares while the quilters stitch away. But when Angie finds the body of ornery Amish woodworker Joseph in her storeroom the next morning, everything starts falling apart.
With evidence mounting against her, Angie is determined to find the culprit before the local sheriff can arrest her. Rolling Brook always appeared to be a simple place, but the closer Angie gets to the killer, the more she realizes that nothing in the small Amish community is as plain as it seems….
I loved reading Murder, Plain and Simple, the first novel in Isabella Alan’s Amish Quilt Shop Mystery series! Angela Braddock inherits Running Stitch, an Amish quilt shop in Rolling Brook, Ohio from her Aunt Eleanor, who was Amish. Eleanor and Angie were very close, and Angie learned most of what she knows about quilting from Eleanor. Taking over the shop meant moving back to Ohio from Dallas, Texas, leaving behind her ex-fiance, excellent job, and parents. Her companion is Oliver, an English bulldog who is afraid of birds and getting used to a whole new world with birds, mud puddles, a doggie door, and a custom-built dog-house behind the home where they live.
Angie’s welcome into this little Amish town has been a blessing and a challenge. The members of her aunt’s quilting circle welcome her, but Martha, the woman who had run Running Stitch when Aunt Eleanor’s health was failing, is angry and jealous as she believed she should have inherited Running Stitch. Joseph Walker, the former owner of the building, claims that Aunt Eleanor never owned the building, and that he is still the legal owner. As Angie and her aunt’s friends attempt to find the property title, Martha’s evident animosity grows. And after the grand reopening, Angela goes to the shop early to meet with a local reporter, they find Joseph Walker in the storeroom. Dead. With bloody, shredded pieces of one of Eleanor’s best quilts lying in tatters around him. There was no evidence of a break-in, and Angie has no alibi (Oliver’s arf didn’t count), leaving her the prime suspect with the strongest motive in the eyes of the young, good-looking sheriff. Now it is up to Angie and her new friends to find the real murderer and clear her name before the threats that begin against Angie and Oliver are made good on.
This book is a delightful read, overflowing with laugh-out-loud wit, a plot that keeps getting deeper, fascinating people and interesting new experiences (such as watermelon tea and head-sized donuts!) all stitched on a backdrop of a charming Amish town in the Midwest. For those who are interested in quilting, there are tips from the author at the end of the book. The characters are extremely well developed, conversations and relationships are exciting, descriptions are so clear that I felt part of the action from the first page. This novel is a little longer than many cozy mysteries, which this found it to be a real bonus, since it is hard to leave Rolling Brook once one arrives.
Murder, Plain and Simple is an exemplary first novel in a new series that promises to entertain and challenge readers. It is a series from which this reader hopes to see many subsequent stories. I enjoy reading novels of Amish living and crafts, as well as mysteries, yet those are not the selling points, to me, for upcoming books in the series. It is the characters themselves who invite the reader to return, again and again, for a cup of tea, to watch the ladies stitch on their quilts and Oliver hide from birds, and visit with them for a while. This novel gets my highest recommendation; not only young adults but adults of all ages who are fans of Amish fiction, quilting or needlework, or cozy mysteries will enjoy it.